Sad news of former MP Prof Ben Turok’s passing – Parliament

MP mobilised South Africans of all colours and creed around the Freedom Charter

Parliament deeply saddened by the passing on of former MP Prof Ben Turok

9 December 2019

The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo, are deeply saddened by the passing on of Prof Ben Turok – a former anti-apartheid activist and a former member of Parliament for many years.

Prof Turok, who passed on today, served as a legislator from 1994 to 2014, during which he amongst others co-chaired the Joint Ethics Committee on Members' Interests and also served in committees on finance, and trade and industry.

A revered struggle hero who, amongst other things, mobilised South Africans of all colours and creed around the Freedom Charter. In the pursuit of freedom for all, he suffered apartheid police persecution and arrest.  Prof Turok was amongst the sharpest political minds, particularly in the area of political economy. He co-drafted the economics section of the Freedom Charter of 1955 alongside Billy Nair. They were both arrested and charged with treason together with 156 other Congress activists in 1956. Thirty-eight years later, both comrades would form part of the first generation of MPs of the first democratic Parliament after the 1994 democratic breakthrough.

Prof Turok, not only spent most of his life fighting against apartheid but he also dedicated his life to finding solutions to problems that plagued our society post-apartheid. Even after his retirement from Parliament, he continued to serve as a guiding voice of reason and also facilitated public discourse through his publication, New Agenda. 

Prof Turok was respected for his moral integrity and uprightness. He will be remembered for his humility and steadfastness in standing up for justice and equality for all. Both in word and action, he embodied great moral principles and social values that should characterise every public representative. He was a true selfless servant of the people who put our country’s interests above his.

Parliament sends its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, comrades in his political home - the African National Congress and everyone his life touched.

Issued Moloto Mothapo, Media Officer, Parliament, 9 December 2019