IN GRIEF, the South African liberation movement paid tribute to struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada who died yesterday aged 87 after a long illness.
President Jacob Zuma declared two days of national mourning for the leader affectionately known as Uncle Kathy, and sent condolences to his widow, former minister Barbara Hogan, and family.
He said the fallen leader had served the African National Congress “selflessly throughout his adult life.”
Mr Kathrada was one of the 11 original defendants at the 1963-64 Rivonia trial alongside ANC president Nelson Mandela and general secretary Walter Sisulu.
He was imprisoned for 26 years on the notorious Robben Island prison off Cape Town alongside scores of ANC leaders, including Mr Zuma.
Mr Kathrada was given the ANC’s highest award in 1992 “for his selfless dedication to the struggle for a free democratic non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.”
He later dedicated himself to the cause of Palestinian freedom.
The South African Communist Party said: “Comrade Kathrada hated injustice in every aspect it reared its ugly head.”
The Young Communist League, which Mr Kathrada joined at the age of 12, said today’s youth could learn much from his “political stamina, loyalty to a people’s cause and extraordinary integrity” and the ANC Youth League called him a “father figure to the youth of this country.
“We are left naked and stripped of our reservoir of revolutionary knowledge with the passing of our icon.”
Mr Kathrada will be laid to rest at Johannesburg’s West Park Cemetery this morning, followed by a memorial service led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.