Panafrican News Agency

South Africa: Liberation struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada dead at 87

Cape Town, South Africa (PANA) – Tributes are flooding in from around the world following the death of liberation hero Ahmed Kathrada in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Nelson Mandela’s closest friend was hospitalised in Johannesburg on 4 March for surgery related to blood clotting on the brain.

Neeshan Balton, the director of the Kathrada Foundation, said the ANC stalwart “experienced several health-related setbacks making the prognosis of his illness unpredictable”.

President Jacob Zuma has instructed that the national flag fly at half-mast at every station in the country with immediate effect.

Kathrada’s political career began in 1941 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa. In July 1963, Kathrada - along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Denis Goldberg – was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for acts of treason in the now infamous Rivonia Trail.

Kathrada spent 26 years in prison – 18 of which were on Robben Island – for his resistance to Apartheid. He was released from prison on 15 October 1989, at the age of 60.

In 1994, Kathrada was elected as a member of parliament for the ANC, and served as Parliamentary Counsellor to President Nelson Mandela until 1999. Kathrada also gave an emotional eulogy at Mandela’s funeral in 2013.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said he embodied a profound sense of compassion, and an unwavering commitment to true justice.

“As leader at the forefront of the struggle for liberation, Kathrada relentlessly fought for the freedoms we all cherish today. May your unwavering commitment to justice and reconciliation live on in all of us,” he said.
-0- PANA 28March2017