Germiston – The City of Ekurhuleni will undertake programmes to honour the memory of the late Thandi Klassen as an artist and for her contribution to the struggle for a democratic South Africa, says Ekurhuleni Mayor Mzwandile Masina.
“As a city, we will embark on numerous programmes to see how we can immortalise her good name. We will make sure that her good name is not associated with mediocrity,” Mayor Masina said on Wednesday.
He was speaking during Klaasen’s memorial service at the Germiston City Hall. It was a moving tribute attended by many of the entertainment industry legends, numerous government officials, including the Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi and the Deputy Minister for Arts and Culture Rejoice Mabudafhasi.
The internationally acclaimed and respected jazz icon from Sophiatown succumbed to cancer recently at the East Rand Hospital at the age of 86.
Klaasen earned several awards and honours including the National Order of the Baobab from the President, which was bestowed on her for her excellent achievement in and contribution to music.
“She remained an icon, an artist, a mother and compatriot, who established herself among her peers. We shall remember her contribution in exile,” Mayor Masina said.
He said a resolution, according to the protocol policy, was adopted by Council to grant a Civic Funeral as well as Posthumous Freedom of the City to Thandi Klassen.
This is the highest honour conferred to an individual by the City. Previous recipients include the late ANC stalwart O.R. Tambo and his wife Adelaide Tambo.
Paying tribute to his fellow artist, Dr Don Mattera said Klaasen was a star in Sophiatown. He described her as a queen and a beautiful woman that was giving.
“You have paid your dues for your people and your beloved country,” Mattera said.
Klaasen’s daughter, Lorraine Klaasen, expressed how difficult this time was for her, saying that it was hard to control her emotions.
She said she and her mother had a lot of things in common – they were both singers united in song.
“Music made my mom very happy… I inherited her gift, which allowed me to put food on the table. My mom taught me how to invest in my own career,” Lorraine said.
Minister Muthambi said Klaasen remained true to herself, despite the unfortunate incident she experienced earlier in life. Klaasen suffered an acid incident that left her face permanently scarred.
Minister Muthambi said regardless of the incident, Klaasen remained steadfast and she will always remain in the country’s memories.
Legendary musician Abigail Kubheka said Klaasen was a strong lady who had style.
“She was everything. We will miss her because she was fun and an entertainer,” Kubheka said.
According to another music great, Letta Mbulu, Klaasen was as a multi-talented artist who could sing, act and dance.
“I am happy. I was touched by her grace. She made me who I am today,” she said.