South Africa mourns Ahmed Kathrada

President declares a special official funeral

Hamba Kahle, Uncle Kathy – Mmusi Maimane

28 March 2017

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA), I wish to express my deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of struggle hero, freedom fighter, and one of the fathers of our nation, Ahmed Kathrada, who passed away peacefully this morning aged 87.

Uncle Kathy, as he was affectionately known, 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.

I fondly recall the many times I engaged with Uncle Kathy – most notably the conversation we had when he was bestowed with the Freedom of the City of Johannesburg. He told me of the years on Robben Island where he – along with the likes of Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo – never heard or saw the presence of children. He shared with me that for him freedom meant hearing the voices of children, indicating his sincere compassion, as well as his commitment to the future of our beautiful country.

Kathrada’s political work began in 1941, at the early age of 12 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa. His involvement included organising the Campaign of Defiance against Unjust laws of 1952, which targeted the Pass Laws, Stock Limitation Regulations, the Group Areas Act, the Separate Representation of Voters Act, the Suppression of Communism Act and the Bantu Authorities Act – which all unfairly limited the rights of Africans.

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. This was Kathrada’s 18th arrest on political grounds, an indication of his unwavering commitment to challenging and defeating an unjust system.

Uncle Kathy spent 26 years in prison – 18 of which was 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.

In the words of Uncle Kathy, “Hatred, revenge, bitterness - these are negative emotions. The person harbouring those emotions suffers more.” My hope and dream is for a South Africa in which we give life and meaning to the legacy of our fallen hero, Ahmed Kathrada, by building a nation that truly bridges the divides which have for so long separated us from living united in our diversity.

Hamba kahle Uncle Kathy. May your unwavering commitment to justice and reconciliation live on in all of us.

Issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the DA

We have lost a leader whose service to his country will forever be inscribed. Hamba Kahle Comrade Kathy

The African National Congress dips its revolutionary banner in mourning on the passing of Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe Comrade Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, fondly known as Uncle Kathy. Comrade Kathy passed away today following a short period of illness. He was 87 years old.

The title of Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe is the highest honour that can be bestowed by the African National Congress (ANC) and the people of South Africa on those who have made an outstanding contribution and sacrifice to the liberation struggle. With the passing of Comrade Kathy the nation has lost a titan, an outstanding leader and a great patriot - a man who stands apart for his service to the people of South Africa, and to the country.

The knowledge that Uncle Kathy was in his twilight years has done little to lessen the blow we have been dealt this sad day. Uwile umthi omkhulu.

His life is a lesson in humility, tolerance, resilience and a steadfast commitment to principle, even when taking a principled stance would place him at odds with his comrades. Uncle Kathy, despite disagreement with the ANC leadership from time to time, never abandoned nor turned his back on the ANC and always affirmed that the ANC and the ANC alone was the only political organization that reflected the values and aspirations of all South Africans.

Until his hospitalization Uncle Kathy was an active and vocal participant in the work of the elder statesmen of the African National Congress (ANC) towards keeping our great revolutionary movement on course. His was a constant, steady and moral voice, and we are all the poorer to have lost him.

From his early days Uncle Kathy was involved in the politics of this country. Born in the rural town of Schweitzer-Reneke in 1929 the first seeds of political consciousness were sown when he was still a teenager. He was only 17 when he participated in the Passive Resistance Campaign of the South African Indian Congress, for which he was later arrested.

After being introduced to Cdes. Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and IC Meer in the 1940’s his political activities against the apartheid regime intensified, culminating in his being banned in 1954. Two years later he was amongst the 156 Treason Trialists together with Cdes Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, for which they were acquitted. A number of years of house arrests and bannings followed, after which Comrade Kathy joined the political underground.

He was one of the eight Rivonia Trialists of 1963, after being netted in a police swoop of the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, and was sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island.

Uncle Kathy spent 26 years in prison, 18 of which were on Robben Island. The experiences of his incarceration are poignantly conveyed in three memoirs he penned upon his release. These books have been an invaluable historical record opening a window into the harsh realities of life in Robben Island for political prisoners, and are prescribed reading in a number of South African schools.

His writings, that serve to educate future generations on the horrors of the past, but also the promise of the future, are amongst the finest of the political literature of that era. He was a man dedicated to lifelong learning, earning a number of degrees whilst incarcerated.

Given the magnitude of his imprisonment, it would have been easy for Uncle Kathy to retire from political life upon his release, but he continued to work tirelessly for the betterment of the lives of all South Africans. He was elected to the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) in 1989 and headed the organization’s Public Relations Department until 1994 when he was elected to Parliament. He served as a Parliamentary Counsellor to his longtime friend and confidante, Cde. Nelson Mandela, with whom he was incarcerated on Robben Island.

Uncle Kathy will be remembered as a man of deep and abiding faith. He undertook the Muslim pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in 1992 and was attached to his community for whom he was a mentor, elder statesman and inspiration. He embodied the strength of the human spirit to rise above adversities.

Islam’s Holy Book, the Qur’an, is instructive with regards to the life of Comrade Kathy, a man who put country and countrymen before self.

“It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces to the East and the West, but righteousness to believe in God and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfil the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the God-fearing.” (Surah Al Baqarah: 177).

We mourn this great Son of Africa, we salute his life.

To the Kathrada family and Comrade Kathrada’s wife Comrade Barbara Hogan, the African National Congress extends our heartfelt condolences.

We have lost a leader whose service to his country will forever be inscribed.

To God we belong and Unto Him is our Return.

Hamba Kahle Mkhonto.

Issued by Gwede Mantashe, Secretary General, ANC

President Zuma declares a special official funeral for Mr Ahmed Kathrda

President Jacob Zuma has declared a Special Official Funeral for the late Rivonia Treason Trialist and stalwart of the liberation struggle for a free and democratic South Africa, Mr Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, who sadly passed away in hospital this morning.

"Uncle Kathy" was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island prison along former President Nelson Mandela and Mr Walter Sisulu. He was one of the longest serving political prisoners in the country.

The African National Congress bestowed its highest honour, Isithwalandwe/Seaparankoe on Mr Kathrada in 1992 for his selfless dedication to the struggle for a free democratic non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.

The President has instructed that the National Flag fly at half-mast at every station in the country from today, 28 March until the evening of the official memorial service.

President Zuma sends his deepest condolences to his wife, former minister of Public Enterprises Ms Barbara Hogan, the Kathrada family and his political home, the African National Congress, which Uncle Kathy served selflessly throughout his adult life.

The family has requested a private funeral ceremony and the details will be announced by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.

An official memorial service will be organized and the details will be announced in due course.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will lead the send-off of the much-loved stalwart within government.  

Issued by Bongani Ngqulunga on behalf of the Presidency 

Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada – FW de Klerk

It is with great sadness that I have learnt about the death of Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada. My wife Elita and I extend our deepest sympathies to his wife and family.

Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada was a man of great integrity. He was truly a good man, who loved South Africa and all its people. His commitment to non-racialism and reconciliation not only played a role during the initial period of transition in the 90s, but until today. May it serve as an example to all South Africans at this time when racism is much too much prevalent.  

May he rest in peace.

Unfortunately, I will be in Malta for an international conference and won’t be able to attend his funeral tomorrow. 

Issued by FW de Klerk Foundation on behalf of Former President FW de Klerk

Save South Africa deeply saddened at the passing of Comrade Ahmed Kathrada

The Save South Africa campaign is deeply saddened by the passing of our hero, comrade and friend, Ahmed Kathrada.

Cde Kathrada made a massive contribution to our struggle for freedom, as well as to the character of our democratic society, and will forever hold a special place in the hearts of all South Africans who are committed to social justice, equality and true freedom.

He will live forever in our memories as an icon of the non-racial, non-sexist South Africa we all believe in. We must ensure his struggle was not in vain.

In addition to all his other commitments in the struggle to entrench democracy, “Cde Kathy” was a consistent and committed supporter of Save South Africa since its formation. We drew tremendous encouragement, inspiration and motivation in the knowledge that he was fully behind us.

We offer our condolences, our deep love and support to his partner, Barbara Hogan, as well as to the rest of his family and to the Kathrada Foundation.

We encourage South Africans to show their love for Mr Kathrada by posting tributes on the Kathrada Foundation’s Facebook page   (www.facebook.com/KathradaFound) or by emailing [email protected]

This is a sad moment for our nation, and yet one which should inspire us all to continue to fight for the kind of society Cde Kathy fought for. That is the greatest tribute we can pay to his contribution to our freedom.

The ANC Youth League mourns the passing of Ahmed Kathrada

The ANC Youth League has woken up to deeply saddening and heart shattering news that Isithwalandwe/Seaparankwe Cde Ahmed Kathrada is no more. We are deeply shattered because Cde Kathy as he was affectionately known was a revolutionary icon of our liberation struggle, a Rivonia Trialist, a loyal, dedicated and beyond reproach father figure to the youth of this country.  

The movement drew inspiration and wisdom from Cde Kathy till his last breath, we are left naked and stripped of our reservoir of revolutionary knowledge with the passing of our icon. Cde Kathy belonged to the generation of Youth Leaguers in the form of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu and many others whom are described as the crème de la crème of our movement. We are deeply saddened that we are loosing that generation and this calls for us as a younger generation to not only emulate the values to which these towering icons of our struggle stood for but to pick up the spear and soldier on. 

The centrality of our struggle today is to free young people from grinding poverty, unacceptable levels of unemployment and persistent inequalities that continue to perpetuate in our country. To do this, we need an energetic leadership that will drive radical economic struggle that will ultimately transform the economy of this country to benefit the majority of our people who remain at the receiving end of the after effects of the brutal apartheid system which continue to persist till today.  

We dip our revolutionary banners in honor of this gallant fighter, a revolutionary till the end and a stalwart of our movement. His death shall not be in vain because for as long as we shall live, his ideals shall continue to perpetuate, we will protect his movement that he loved till his last breath, the African National Congress, we will safeguard its unity and we shall forever be vocal about the need for the ANC to reclaim its hegemony as a leader of society. We will do all we can to make sure that the ANC lives beyond the 105 years that Cde Kathy played a meaningful part in.

Issued by Njabulo Nzuza, ANC Youth League Secretary General

YCLSA Statement on the Passing Away of Ahmed Kathrada

The YCLSA is deeply saddened to hear the sad news that a comrade who has joined YCLSA at the age of 12, Cde Ahmed Kathrad has ceased to exist. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Kathrada family, to the Congress Movement , to the South African  people and to all peace-loving internationalists.

Cde Kathrada was the true embodiment of the struggles against the oppressor. He hated capitalism with passion. He further understood the struggle in such a way that he understood clearly the link between the national question and the class questions, both in the South african context as well as in the international context.

He was actively involved in the reconstitution of the underground SACP structure which had hitherto been known as CPSA after it was banned under the Suppression of Communism Act by the apartheid regime. 

Out of Cde Kathrada's political stamina, loyalty to a people's cause and extraordinary integrity, as this generation, we can learn a lot. He was loyal but critical to the movement. He was a figure of strenght and a source of inspiration to many. He remained true to the cause of the marginalized till his last breath.

As the YCLSA we remain indebted by his commitment and exemplary conduct as the member of our organization. He fulfilled YCLSA member’s duties. He had carried out YCLSA decisions. He was always to sacrifice for the YCLSA and he was loyal to YCLSA hence our indebtness as an organization.

With the passing away of a man who has lived his life to the fullest, dedicated his entire in the struggle for humanity and with an unquestionable commitment to the liberation of the socially and economically marginalized, the YCLSA calls upon young people of our country not to mourn but to emulate, celebrate and take the baton forward  till there is no exploitation of one man by another.

May the soul of the fighting soldier for socialism rest in peace.

Issued by Muleki Dlelanga, National Secretary of the YCLSA

The HSF is saddened by the passing of Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada

It is with great sadness and deep regret that the Helen Suzman Foundation has been alerted to the death of Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada. He was one of the most prominent figures associated with President Nelson Mandela. He was a man of enormous courage and perseverance.  He was also a man with a keen and warm sense of humour.

His regard for the late Helen Suzman was widely known and on the occasion of the book launch of Lord Renwick’s biography of Helen Suzman he spoke very warmly of Helen.

Our deepest condolences to Barbara Hogan, other members of his family, and his friends and comrades. 

Issued by Francis Antonie, Director, HSF

NEHAWU statement on the passing away of Uncle Kathy

The National Education Health & Allied Workers Union [NEHAWU] has learned with great sadness of the passing away of a revolutionary freedom fighter, Isithwalandwe, former leader of the African National Congress [ANC] and of the South African Communist Party [SACP], Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada.

Uncle Kathy’s passing away after a long illness will forever remain a wound in the hearts and minds of South Africans because of the role he replayed in defeating the apartheid regime. Uncle Kathy joined the Young Communist League of South Africa [YCLSA] in 1941 at the tender age of 14 and dedicated his life to serving the struggle for freedom first in the Transvaal Passive Resistance Council and later in the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress where he fought gallantly for a just, classless and non-racial South Africa.

He believed in the idea of a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa and often spoke of concerted efforts to fight the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequalities.

While imprisoned at Robben Island he refused privileges that were reserved only for Indian and white prisoners. He identified himself as part of the collective and was very vocal in dismissing any form of racism.

After serving a lengthy prison sentence for high treason he continued to serve the people of South Africa especially the youth through the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. He continued to advocate for a free Palestine and often condemned Israeli aggression as part of his contribution to international solidarity.

As NEHAWU we send our condolences to his family, his life partner Barbra Hogan and the entire Mass Democratic Movement [MDM]. We hope the current generation has learnt from Uncle Cathy and will take forth the struggle to build the type of society that Uncle Kathy believed in and was prepared to die for.

Lala Ngoxolo Uncle Kathy, indima yakho uyidlalile, The Struggle Continues!!!

Issued by Khaya Xaba, Media Liaison Officer, NEHAWU

COSATU mourns the death of Ahmed Kathrada

The Congress of South African Trade Unions joins millions of people in South Africa to mourn the death of the ANC struggle stalwart Cde Ahmed Kathrada , who passed away in earlier this morning. We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, the ANC and his friends. This struggle icon will be sorely missed and greatly remembered for his dedication and sacrifices to the fight against apartheid and for social justice.

He was a humble and dedicated activist , who as one of the founding fathers of the post-apartheid South Africa ,was prepared to pay the ultimate price to dismantle the evil system of apartheid. We will remember him as a moral voice that consistently spoke out against corruption and social injustice.

He departs at a very difficult time for his beloved organisation the ANC that is in dire need of his brand of leadership that was characterised by selflessness and integrity.

Cde Ahmed Kathrada’s death represents the end of an era for the oldest liberation movement that reached a milestone of its105th birthday earlier this year. The young and emerging leadership of the movement needs to turn a new chapter in our liberation struggle towards a second more radical phase of our transition. They can learn a lot from the generation of Ahmed Kathrada and Nelson Mandela that joined the struggle without expecting any material benefits or  compensation.

He represented the best values of the movement and we owe it to him and others like him to preserve and defend the movement ,and emulate their exemplary and principled leadership. The best way to honour and preserve their legacy will be to work to end  factionalism and corruption that is threatening to destroy our glorious movement.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU

Tutu: SA looked up to Kathrada as a 'favourite grandparent'

Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has described his late friend Ahmed Kathrada as a person of the highest integrity who was a blessing for all South Africans.

In a heartfelt tribute to Kathrada, who died in Johannesburg in the early hours of Tuesday, Tutu wrote: ''When the gates of apartheid's political prisons swung open in 1989/1990 the quality of the human beings who emerged was an extraordinary blessing for all South Africans."

''These were people of the highest integrity and moral fibre who, through their humility and humanity, inspired our collective self-worth – and the world's confidence in us.

''Ahmed Kathrada was one of those leaders. A man of remarkable gentleness, modesty – and steadfastness – he once wrote to the president to argue that he did not deem himself important enough to be awarded a high honour.''

Tutu said Kathrada was a leader who embraced the simple life and supported righteous causes in the country and abroad.

His loyalty to the African National Congress included also criticising the party.

''The struggle denied Ahmed Kathrada the opportunity to have children of his own; he was first imprisoned at the age of 17. But many South Africans looked up to him as a favourite grandparent.

''Leah and I extend our deepest condolences to all who loved and were loved by Ahmed Kathrada. God bless you all.

''May Ahmed rest in peace and rise in glory. May he rejoice in many heavenly cups of hot chocolate with his old friends and comrades, Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, Motsoaledi and Mahlaba, among them.''

''Long may the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation fertilise and grow this great soul's legacy of non-racial justice.''


South Africans must 'honour Kathrada and his life’s work' - Goldberg

Johannesburg – One of the remaining two Rivonia trialists, Denis Goldberg, has described Ahmed Kathrada’s death as a terrible loss at a time when South Africa needed to learn from his values the most.

Kathrada passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg.

His foundation’s director Neeshan Balton confirmed the struggle veteran passed away peacefully.

Kathrada, fondly known as Uncle Kathy, underwent surgery for a blood clot on the brain earlier this month but experienced post-operative complications. He also contracted pneumonia which affected both his lungs, and on Monday his foundation announced that his condition had worsened and would continue to deteriorate.

Goldberg, who had not heard the news in the morning, said he had received a call on Monday night of "Uncle Kathy’s" worsening condition.

"We have to honour his life and life’s work," Goldberg said on Tuesday.

'Bond of shared experience'

He said Kathrada’s belief of non-racialism was a value South Africans still needed to work towards.

"Of course we have to deal with the historic apartheid legacy that the African majority are the most oppressed but we cannot rectify this at the expense of the minorities," said the Rivonia trialist.

Black people, Indians, coloured people and whites have to somehow walk a line of respect for each other. It is difficult, but it has to be done otherwise South Africa is in for a lot of unhappiness, added the ANC stalwart.

"I am so sorry he’s gone… he was there, he wasn’t well and spoke, and when he did speak, he spoke very strongly in a good firm voice," said Goldberg.

Goldberg, in reflecting on Kathrada, said they had a lovely relationship.

"You know if you had been through a trial together and you faced death together there’s a bond. Even if you don’t see each other often, there is a bond of a shared experience," said the youngest remaining trialist.

"People you respect and admire leaving you all alone – actually it’s not a nice feeling," he continued.

Respect for others

Goldberg told News24 that he didn’t want to be the only remaining Rivonia trialist. He said although Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni were of ill health, he felt he still needed them alongside him.

He said the last time he saw Kathrada was at the Drakenstein prison in February. This was the correctional facility which used to be called Victor Verster prison, where former president Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 after spending 27 years behind bars.

"When Kathy came... I was astounded by how frail he looked," said Goldberg.

He said that he believed the blood clot on the veteran’s brain was possibly the result of a fall he had that day.

"I had wondered what caused the fall, was it a stroke or a minor incident? But these things tend to go with age," said Goldberg.

The veteran said he would always remember his comrade for the respect he showed others and his close friend Madiba.


'Comrade Kathy was committed to principle' – Mbeki Foundation

Johannesburg - Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada will be remembered for being committed to principle until he drew his last breath, the Thabo Mbeki Foundation said on Tuesday.

“As we remember a life so well lived, we cannot but reflect on the valuable counsel Comrade Kathy conveyed to all of us while he lived, including and in particular the importance of promoting the understanding that leaders exist to serve the people rather than to cultivate their personal interests,” the foundation said in a statement.

The 87-year-old, affectionately known as "Kathy", succumbed to pneumonia in the early hours of Tuesday morning. His condition deteriorated on Monday evening due to complications from his recent surgery for a blood clot.

The foundation praised Kathrada for dedicating his adult life to the struggle against apartheid.

“For this principled stand, he, together with his fellow comrades, spent more than a quarter of a century on Robben Island.

“Such was his commitment to principle that Comrade Kathy consciously refused to be broken by harassment, torture, imprisonment and the threat of much worse,” the foundation said.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to Comrade Kathy’s partner Comrade Barbara Hogan, his wider family of comrades and friends. As the poet said, ‘Death be not proud!’ May Comrade Kathy’s soul rest in peace.”

The foundation said Kathrada’s ideals were yet to be realised.

“We must do everything to ensure that the values which inspired him to battle, germinate a million times over and produce more of his calibre who will, instead of submitting, vigorously prosecute the struggle for a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it.”


We are deeply saddened by Kathrada’s passing’ - Mandela Foundation

Johannesburg - The Nelson Mandela Foundation on Tuesday sent its condolences to the family of struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada.

"We are deeply saddened to learn this morning of the passing on of our dear friend and founding trustee, Ahmed Kathrada," the foundation said in a statement.

The Kathrada and Mandela foundations will hold a public gathering at the Nelson Mandela Foundation's offices in Houghton, north of Johannesburg.

Members of the public were encouraged to post messages of condolence, accompanied by their pictures with the stalwart on social media using the hashtag #Kathrada. These messages will be delivered to his family.

Mandela was one of the leaders who mentored Kathrada in politics when he was still a young activist.

Kathrada and Mandela used to affectionately call each other "Madala".

Principled, caring

Over the years, Kathrada described Mandela as a unifier and a democrat par excellence, highly principled, caring, thorough in everything he undertook, a good communicator, with the ability to admit mistakes and accept criticism.

"He is a nation builder, lacks pettiness, is capable of laughing," Kathrada once said of Mandela.

Kathrada would be remembered, for the most part, for being arrested with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ray Mhlaba, Dennis Goldberg and Elias Motsoaledi at Liliesleaf Farm, Rivonia, in July 1963.

He was found guilty on charges including conspiracy and sabotage during the famous Rivonia Trial held at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria in 1963 and 1964.

Kathrada was one of those sentenced to life in prison and hard labour on Robben Island.

At the time, Kathrada and his co-accused welcomed the sentence as the alternative to death by hanging.

Speaking about Mandela and Sisulu's leadership during their incarceration, Kathrada said the following:

"Well, when you talk about President Mandela, you cannot leave out Walter Sisulu. They complement each other. They are two different characters but you cannot talk about one without the other. President Mandela was highly respected, admired. But Walter Sisulu was a father figure. Across the political spectrum, in prison everybody would regard him as a father. Now these are wonderful human beings."


Kathrada dedicated his life to fellow human beings - Makhura

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier David Makhura has praised one of the last remaining Rivonia trialists for dedicating his life to his fellow human beings.

Makhura said Uncle Kathy, as he was fondly known, dedicated his adult life to the struggle against apartheid and the building of a democratic South Africa.

“He served the ANC and the country with humility and always led with dignity. His values will always inform the work we do for the people,” Makhura said on Tuesday.

Kathrada, 87, would remain the greatest inspiration to all South Africans.

He underwent surgery relating to a blood clot on the brain earlier this month, but experienced several post-operative complications and contracted pneumonia in both lungs.

Kathrada would be remembered, for the most part, for being arrested with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ray Mhlaba, Dennis Goldberg and Elias Motsoaledi at Liliesleaf Farm, and being found guilty on charges including conspiracy and sabotage during the famous Rivonia trial, held at the Palace of Justice in Pretoria, in 1963.

Kathrada was sentenced to life in prison and hard labour on Robben Island.


Kathrada never fought for positions of power - NFP

Durban – In remembering struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada, the National Freedom Party (NFP) said it was inspiring that he never fought for power.

“It is so inspiring that he never fought for positions or power, during his term as a Member of Parliament,” the party said in a statement on Tuesday.

Kathrada died in the early hours of Tuesday morning. He underwent surgery relating to a blood clot on the brain earlier this month but experienced several post-operative complications and contracted pneumonia in both lungs.

The NFP said Kathrada paved the way for a South Africa and fought for justice, equality, a non-racial, and a non-sexiest society.

“As the country we need people who will always remained discipline and committed to the good of our nation. Mr Ahmed Kathrada remains a symbol of peace and selflessness leader.”

The party expressed condolences to Kathrada’s family and friends.


NUMSA statement on the passing away of Ahmed Kathrada

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) joins the people of South Africa in mourning the loss of Apartheid fighter and struggle hero Ahmed Kathrada.

Kathrada was a selfless activist who dedicated 75 years of his life to the struggle for liberation. From as young as age twelve, Kathrada was involved in the struggle for freedom, and by the time he was a teenager, he had participated in the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign led by the South African Indian Congress. He was one of thousands of people who defied the brutal Apartheid government for laws which discriminated against Indian people.

Kathrada was sentenced to life in prison in 1964 by the Apartheid government during the Rivonia Trial and spent 26 years in prison on Robben Island. He was arrested together with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan MbekiDennis Goldberg, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni.  All the accused were charged with organising the military wing of the ANC, Umkhonto weSizwe, and were found guilty of committing specific acts of sabotage.

Kathrada is like countless of anti-apartheid leaders who fought against tyranny in order to free the people of South Africa. He made personal sacrifices in order to defend those who were incapable of defending themselves and as NUMSA we thank him and honor him for his contribution.

We also recognize that the work of freeing the people from the scourge of inequality and poverty is far from over. The negotiated settlement which was signed during the transition process of the early 1990’s ensured that the overall suffering of the African majority continued. It also ensured that colonialism of a special type would continue under a democratic dispensation. It entrenched the position of White monopoly capital and created a small wealthy African elite, who benefit at the expense of the African majority.

That is why for us as NUMSA, his passing away is a catalyst to motivate us to finish the work of liberating the people of this country. We will fight harder to ensure that we attain freedom and dignity for the people of this country, in our lifetime.

On behalf of 3 hundred and fifty thousand metalworkers we extend our sincerest condolences to the family of our fallen hero, Ahmed Kathrada.

Issued by Phakamile Hlubi, Acting NUMSA National Spokesperson

SACP statement on the passing away of Cde Ahmed Kathrada

The SACP has received with extreme sadness the news of the passing away of struggle stalwart, Isitwalandwe/Seaparankoe Cde Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada who passed away at the age of 87. The SACP extends its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Cde Kathrada.

Cde Kathrada dedicated his life to fighting injustice and since he became an activist at the tender age of 17 he diligently and selflessly excelled at this task. He was exemplary in many respects with how he approached the revolutionary task at hand.

Cde Kathrada was imprisoned as part of the Rivonia Trialists which included amongst others Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Wilton Mkwayi, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Denis Goldberg. In the post-democratic dispensation he served as Parliamentary Counsellor for the first democratic President of South Africa, Cde Nelson Mandela.

Cde Kathrada’s life can best be summed up by the words of Che Guevera “if you tremble indignation at every injustice then you are a comrade of mine”. Cde Kathrada hated injustice in every aspect it reared its ugly head and hence once South Africa attained her freedom he dedicated his life to the struggle for justice internationally. He campaign tirelessly for the freedom of the people of Palestine.

In his honour we ought to focus our organisational renewal efforts to inculcate amongst the members of the movement broadly the values that Cde Kathrada represented. We need to deepen our resolve to continue the struggle to end poverty and want, diseases, illiteracy, lack of housing and intensify the fight against corruption and the crisis of corruption impunity currently threatening the unity of our broad movement and society.

Comrade Kathy was an example of humility, full of revolutionary example of selfless service to the people and he lives a lasting legacy to be emulated by all of us particularly the youth of our country that he dedicated his life for their well being.

May his undying legacy live on and his fighting spirit thrive forever!

Issued by Malesela Maleka, Acting SACP Spokesperson, 28 March 2017  

Ahmed Kathrada pursued reconciliation – Pieter Mulder

With the death of Mr Ahmed Kathrada, South Africa lost one of the last members of the old Mandela-school politicians.

Mr Kathrada has played an important role in the time after 1994. He was then appointed as a political advisor to president Nelson Mandela. In the Mandela time win-win solutions to South Africa's political problems were sought.

Mr Kathrada's political style was to seek solutions that tried to accommodate everyone. Currently we are experiencing a political style where groups are being incited with racial stereotyping on all sides. It was not Mr Kathrada's style and probably explains why he was very critical of the current government.

Of the 400 members elected to parliament in 1994, including Mr Kathrada, barely ten is still in parliament today. It means a major rejuvenation of faces in parliament, but in addition a lot of continuity, organizational memory and wisdom of the past are lost. In that respect Mr Kathrada's peaceful political contribution is a loss to the whole of South Africa.

The Freedom Front Plus expresses its sympathy with the family of Mr Kathrada, who comes from Schweizer-Reneke, where I lived for six years and served as a member of parliament.

Issued by Pieter Mulder, FF Plus Leader

Kathrada 'a beloved comrade, father and friend' - Ramaphosa

Johannesburg – Ahmed Kathrada’s life should be celebrated as a life that was lived in the service of humanity, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.

"As we prepare to lay his mortal remains to rest, we are reminded of our solemn duty to live by his example and to complete his work," he said in a statement released shortly after visiting the stalwart’s home in Killarney.

Ramaphosa had visited Kathrada’s long-term partner Barbara Hogan at their home, hours after South Africans learnt that the 87-year-old stalwart had succumbed to pneumonia following a recent operation, at the Donald Gordon hospital.

Kathrada died at 03:45 after a short illness he contracted after undergoing an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain earlier this month.

"It was with a profound sense of loss that I learned of the passing this morning of... a beloved comrade, father and friend.

"Kathy will be missed by the many people whose lives he touched and enriched."

Ramaphosa described Kathrada as a warm, courageous, compassionate and resolute person.

He would be remembered as an unassuming freedom fighter whose wisdom, tolerance, humility, steadfastness and humour earned him the love and respect of all South Africans, Ramaphosa said.

"After his release from prison, after the achievement of democracy and the adoption of a new democratic Constitution, even as others contemplated retirement, Kathy was determined to continue to serve the people.

"The establishment of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation was born out of his conviction that he could not rest for as long as the people of this country were not free from want, hunger and ignorance."

Ramaphosa said the work done at the foundation would cement the stalwart’s legacy.

His dedication to the development of a new generation of young leaders would ensure that his impact on the development of a new, better society would endure for years to come.

"I join the people of South Africa – and friends from across the world – in extending my deepest sympathies to his wife, Barbara, and his family, friends and comrades.

"Your love and support sustained him through a lifetime of service, sacrifice and struggle," Ramaphosa said.

Earlier, former president Kgalema Motlanthe, who also sits on the foundation’s board, said Kathrada had sacrificed most of his youthful and adult life, "unmindful of the consequences to himself".

He never faltered as a liberation fighter on all the political platforms he was part of, Motlanthe said.

"This made him a special South African and one of those rare human beings who belong to the South African and African political pantheon.

"He will forever remain in our hearts. The ANC will miss him, as will South Africa, Africa and the world.

"Go well comrade Kathy! Yours was a life well lived!!! It was an ode to the very notion of being human!" Motlanthe said.


We should mourn, but also celebrate the life of a great patriot - Essop Pahad

28 March 2017

Johannesburg - Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada's wife Barbara Hogan, has a strong personality and was taking his passing well, former minister in the presidency Essop Pasad said on Tuesday.

"She became strong willed when she was in prison for many years. She is taking it well. I think everybody is taking it well. We were expecting it and obviously it is an exceptionally sad occasion," Pasad told reporters outside Kathrada's home in Killarney, Johannesburg.

"For me we should mourn, but we should [but also] celebrate the life of a great patriot."

Kathrada died in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

He earlier underwent surgery relating to a blood clot but experienced several post-operative complications and contracted pneumonia in both lungs.

Pahad said one of his fondest memories of Kathrada was when he refused to be called "Uncle Kathy" - as he is affectionately known.

"There was a meeting at my parents flat, my mother said... do you want tea or coffee, and I open[ed] the door and I said 'Uncle Kathy', and [during] the whole meeting he couldn't stop laughing  and he came out and said 'don't call me Uncle Kathy anymore - so from the age of 16, I had to stop calling him Uncle Kathy - I had to call him Kathy or Comrade Kathy," Pahad said.

Kathrada will be buried at the Westpark Cemetery on Wednesday in accordance with Muslim funeral rituals, his foundation said.

The funeral will begin around 10:00 and include a tribute from former president and the foundation's board member, Kgalema Motlanthe, the foundation said in a statement on Tuesday.


Winnie: Anyone who can't see the country is in crisis is bluffing themselves

28 March 2017

Johannesburg - South Africa is in crisis and anyone who cannot see that, is just bluffing themselves.

This was the scathing criticism shared by struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela on the direction the country is headed.

A frail Madikizela-Mandela was speaking on the side-lines of the Ahmed Kathrada commemoration ceremony at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Kathrada died early on Tuesday morning.

Madikizela-Mandela said: "This is not just another loss of a struggle stalwart, this was a rehash of Madiba's passing and it is very, very emotional. I just saw all over again what I saw on that day, the 5th of December 2013, when Madiba left us."

She said Kathrada was an extension of Madiba.

"His departing brings finality to the chapter on the history of our struggle. One, of course, has fears for our country. I wish he hadn't left at this particular time. I can imagine how pained he was that he left at this particular time.

"All what we fought for is not what is going on right now. It is a tragedy that he lived and saw what was happening, we cannot pretend like South Africa is not in crisis, our country is in crisis and anyone who cannot see that is just bluffing themselves."

Close friends, family and members of the community said they would remember the 87-year-old as a jolly, kind and honest man. A man "spoke truth to power".

The ceremony was attended by George Bizos, Gauteng premier David Makhura and former justice Zac Yacoob.

There was not a dry eye in the auditorium as speaker after speaker shared fond memories of Kathrada.

The funeral service is taking place on Wednesday in Johannesburg.