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Tribute to the late Honourable Trevor John Bonhomme Mp (ANC) & Condolence motion to the Bonhomme & Dreyer Families

Delivered by Luwellyn Landers MP (ANC) (Deputy-Minister: International Relations and Cooperation)

22 August 2017, National Assembly

During the early hours of the morning of Saturday, 29 July 2017 the Honourable Trevor Bonhomme succumbed to a terminal illness.

Trevor John Bonhomme was born to Virgil and Patricia Bonhomme in January 1942 in Overport, Durban. The Bonhommes were a staunch Catholic and working-class family. Honourable Trevor Bonhomme attended the St. Augustine Primary School, followed by the Umbilo High School in Durban where he matriculated. With his brother and comrade Virgil the Honourable Trevor Bonhomme started out as a worker in the upholstery industry for the Grafton-Everest company.

The low wages they earned forced the brothers to agitate against their bosses. Their success in getting wages doubled for the workers in the company and in the upholstery trade also resulted in them becoming marked men. Later, they were dismissed and had great difficulty finding work in the upholstery industry. However, they continued their trade union work.

As apartheid took root in the 1960's, the Bonhomme family were forcibly removed from their Overport home by the Group Areas Act. When he and Lorraine were married they moved to Newlands East. The poverty of this community and it's neglect by the authorities made it a site of struggle for the Honourable Trevor Bonhomme. Dedicated to the Newlands East community, he lived there for the rest of his life.

Civic issues became political and human rights issues for the Bonhomme brothers. They also succeeded in linking up with other activists, like the Honourable Bheki Cele, who faced similar challenges in other black communities. They did all this through organizations like the United Committee of Concern (UCC) and the Durban Housing Action Committee (DHAC), amongst others.

Their work was critical in mobilizing and demonstrating the oppressed communities' resistance to apartheid. Activism with comrades such as the Honourable Bheki Cele and Pravin Gordhan saw the building of alliances and networks across race, class and religious divides. This culminated in their role in the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in 1983. Their struggles of the 1980's was the decade that led to the eventual defeat of apartheid.

Despite the intense repression and States of Emergency during this time, the Bonhomme brothers worked actively in the ANC underground. In 1989 the Honourable Trevor Bonhomme was detained and incarcerated at the Modderbee Prison; but the persistent security branch harassment and intimidation did not deter them. Their collective activism with comrades around the country and, indeed, across the world forced the apartheid masters to the negotiation table. Understandably, the release of Nelson Mandela with other ANC leaders and the unbanning of the ANC was a high point in the Honourable Trevor Bonhomme's life.

Consequently, it was no surprise that he was among the delegates to the first conference of the ANC to be held inside South Africa in 1991. Honourable Trevor Bonhomme then threw himself into transitional politics, serving in leadership at the local government level.

In 2006 Honourable Trevor Bonhomme was deployed by the ANC to the National Assembly. He opened a Parliamentary.

Constituency Office in Phoenix where he re-kindled the comradeship he had enjoyed with members of the Phoenix Working Committee since the 1970's.

We are informed by his good wife Lorraine that, as a consequence of his illness, Honourable Trevor Bonhomme suffered great pain during his last days. When he passed on he was surrounded by his loved ones, holding onto Lorraine's hand.

Honourable Trevor Bonhomme was a man of spotless integrity; he was an ANC cadre who led by example. We use this opportunity to honour his contribution to the struggle for democracy and the liberation of the people of South Africa.

Hamba kahle Mkhonto;
Phumla ngo xolo!

     
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