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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 11:43 GMT
ANC veteran dies
South African army
Mr Modise oversaw the transition of the defence forces
By Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg

The former South African defence minister, Joe Modise, has died of cancer at his home near Pretoria.

He was 72.

Joe Modise
Joe Modise: Went from fighting apartheid to commanding the nation's army

In a short statement, President Thabo Mbeki said he would long be remembered as a stalwart of South Africa's fight for liberation.

Joe Modise was appointed defence minister by Nelson Mandela soon after South Africa's first democratic elections in 1994.

Exile

Modise joined the ANC's military wing Umkhonto Wesizwe in 1960.

He later became its commander-in-chief.

In 1963, he went into exile to receive military training in Czechoslovakia and Russia.

He was tasked with organising military action against the apartheid regime from abroad.

He also oversaw the setting-up of military bases and training camps in countries like Angola and Uganda.

In the early 1990s after his return from exile when the ANC began negotiations with the white-minority government, Joe Modise formed part of Nelson Mandela's powerful negotiation team.

He continued to be high on the list of the ANC leaders who eventually negotiated the final settlement for South Africa's democratic transition.

Government

As defence minister, Joe Modise oversaw the difficult process of integrating security forces that defended apartheid and those who sought to overthrow it, a task achieved with mixed results.

President Mbeki said Joe Modise would be remembered as a a man who served his country with dedication.

Modise retired from politics in 1999 after South Africa's second democratic election.

He is survived by his wife and two daughters.

See also:

18 Sep 00 | Africa
SA army 'in racism crisis'
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