Chabane, his driver and a bodyguard crashed into a truck making a U-turn on the N1 near Polokwane around 1am on Sunday. A breathalyser test taken shortly after the accident indicated the truck driver might have been drinking, Limpopo police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto said. He was taken to hospital for blood tests.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) on Monday, said Chabane had helped transform the public service.
“In memory of the late Minister Chabane, the PSC will continue to contribute towards building a capable and developmental public service”, deputy chairman Richard Sizani said.
Both the National Teachers’ Union (Natu) and the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said his death came at a critical time for public sector wage talks.
“His tragic death comes at the time when his department was engaged in wage negotiations with public sector unions on improvement of working conditions for government employees, for implementation on April 1,” Natu deputy president Allen Thompson said.
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said it was hoped the talks would be concluded by the end of March.
Thompson said Chabane’s death would affect wage negotiations, which he had spearheaded. He hoped they would not end in a deadlock and a strike.
Chabane had come up with ways to improve the government housing scheme, and other measures to improve the lives of public servants.
Maluleke said the country has lost a diligent, dedicated and passionate leader.
“His death will indeed leave a huge void in government.”
The Chamber of Mines said the mining industry would remember Chabane’s excellent leadership at the time of the Marikana tragedy.
“His astuteness in confronting the challenges the country faced is a lesson we should all learn from. We hope the family, government and his entire political fraternity will find it in their hearts to continue with his passion of making South Africa a better country for all,” the chamber’s president Mike Teke said.
The Roman Catholic Church said Chabane was one of Cabinet’s most efficient and ethical members.
“It is also sad to hear allegations that the cause of the accident included drunken driving of an unroadworthy vehicle. As a church, we vehemently condemn substance and, especially, alcohol abuse in our country which has made us to lose such a jewel,” said Archbishop William Slattery.
The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) said Chabane, in his previous capacity as minister in the presidency responsible for the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and general communication, was always responsive to the media.
“In particular, Sanef remembers the way he diffused the controversy started by utterances of then GCIS CEO Jimmy Manyi, that he would only place government adverts in media that gives government positive coverage.”
Chabane had called Manyi to order, and made it clear that Manyi was misrepresenting a Cabinet decision on centralising control of government advertising.
Chabane had said at the time that government would not use its advertising budget to interfere with editorial control.