Politics and Society
South Africa loses anti-apartheid icon, Ahmed Kathrada
Ahmed Kathrada, a South African struggle stalwart has passed on. Kathrada was among the eight accused, who were sentenced to life imprisonment during the Rivonia Trial between 1963-1964. He served 26 years in prison alongside Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu. A man of dignity, and virtue, Kathrada’s death creates a huge vacuum in South Africa’s highly polarised political sphere. He will be greatly missed.
Ahmed Kathrada has passed on. The news came this morning from Donald Gordon Hospital, Johannesburg. Kathrada who died at the age of 87 was among those that spent many years in prison for acts of sabotage against the then apartheid government. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964, and spent 18 of those years in Robben island alongside Nelson Mandela.
In a press statement, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said the African National Congress (ANC) veteran passed away peacefully after a short period of illness, following surgery to the brain. In the press statement, the Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Balton, confirmed that the anti-apartheid struggle veteran “breathed his last today.”
Balton said, “This is great loss to the ANC, the broader liberation movement and South Africa as a whole. Internationally, he was staunch in his support for the Palestinian struggle. ‘Kathy’ was an inspiration to millions in different parts of the world.”
Read: Remembering a South African struggle icon: Ahmed Kathrada- 10 quotes
The press statement also quoted the Chairperson of Kathrada Foundation, Derek Hanekom who was overcome with emotions. He said he has lost a “revolutionary mentor and dear friend.”
The Chairperson further added that, “Comrade Kathy was a gentle, humane and humble soul. He was a determined revolutionary who gave his entire life to the liberation struggle in our country.”
Kathrada faced various trials during the apartheid regime, the Defiance Campaign Trial of 1952, the Treason Trial 1956-1961, the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial where he was sentenced to life imprisonment alongside Walter Sisulu and Nelson Mandela. He was released in 1989.
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Kathrada will be buried according to Muslim religious rites, the press statement noted.
Laloo ‘Isu’ Chiba (86), a fellow Robben Island prisoner said that the death of his comrade left a deep vacuum in his life.
Chiba said, “I have worked with Kathy for over sixty years. He has been my strength in prison, my guide in political life and my pillar of strength in the most difficult moments of my life. Now he is gone.”
Kathrada served between 1994 and 1999 as the parliamentary counsellor to late President Nelson Mandela. His service to the nation continued even till last year, where he continued speaking truth to power and writing a letter to President Jacob Zuma, asking him to resign following several corruption scandals in Zuma’s government.
Kathrada had a list of honorary doctorate degrees from various top ranking universities in the world.
Social media has been awash with tributes to the struggle starlwart.
After Nelson Mandela.2nd longest serving prisoner anti apartheid stalwart #AhmedKathrada is no more #RIPAhmedKathrada Hamba Kahle Mkhonto. pic.twitter.com/l2NZDd9gIP
— Rajesh Jantilal (@RajeshJantilal) March 28, 2017
Kathrada’s activism spanned a total of 75 years. May he rest in power. #AhmedKathrada #RIPKathrada pic.twitter.com/dh9sG2nUUx
— The Daily Vox (@thedailyvox) March 28, 2017
Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who was sentenced to life imprisonment with Nelson Mandela, dies at age 87. https://t.co/YwF2UjI7nv pic.twitter.com/0hEJCqBV9X
— AJ+ (@ajplus) March 28, 2017
Tributes pour in for anti-apartheid hero #AhmedKathrada who has died aged 87 https://t.co/PTYiCSFMnn #RIPCdeKathy pic.twitter.com/cLH6Mc4Hyy
— BBC News Africa (@BBCAfrica) March 28, 2017
The life of struggle icon #AhmedKathrada is a lesson on significance through selfless service to humanity.Condolences to family &friends pic.twitter.com/9ramhXpSe3
— Prof Thuli Madonsela #KindnessBuilds (@ThuliMadonsela3) March 28, 2017
Along with our grief about the death of Ahmed #Kathrada, today we will have to stomach the vultures eulogizing what they trampled on.
— Madeleine Fullard (@mfullard2) March 28, 2017
"Each generation must discover its mission & fulfil it or betray it"-Fanon
Yours was political freedom & you fulfilled it!✊🏾#AhmedKathrada
— Dali Mpofu (@AdvDali_Mpofu) March 28, 2017
Together again. Rest in Power! #AhmedKathrada pic.twitter.com/6Nnd1KDFnX
— VT (@VusiThembekwayo) March 28, 2017
Rest In Peace #AhmedKathrada pic.twitter.com/9myNYUPpLw
— Sketchy Bongo (@SketchyBongo) March 28, 2017