Published: Wed, March 29, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jose Becker

South African anti-apartheid leader Ahmed Kathrada dies, 87

Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada, affectionately known as Kathy, has died at the age of 87 in the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg (born in Schweizer-Reneke on 21 August 1929, died Johannesburg on 28 March 2017).

It is unclear if Zuma will attend Kathrada's funeral on Wednesday.

"This is a great loss to the ANC (African National Congress), the broader liberation movement and South Africa as a whole", said Neeshan Balton, Executive Director of the foundation.

He was released in October 1989 as the racist regime, under growing pressure from the liberation movement, unbanned the ANC and embarked on the path that led to the rebirth of South Africa as a democratic nation in 1994.

"May Ahmed rest in peace and rise in glory", Tutu said in a statement. He joined the Communist Party in the early 1940s and, as general-secretary of the Transvaal Indian Congress, was instrumental in linking it to the ANC. He received the ANC's highest accolade, the Isitwalandwe Award, while in prison.

After being involved in activities against apartheid, Mr Kathrada was arrested on the outskirts of Johannesburg in July 1963, when police swooped on Liliesleaf Farm in the suburb or Rivonia, where he and other "banned" people had been meeting.

Kathrada denied all charges against him and was convicted on only one count, sabotage. He remained locked up for the next 26 years, until he was 60.

He entered the maximum security prison on Robben Island, off the coast of Cape Town, at age 34.

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"He has been my strength in prison, my guide in political life and my pillar of strength in the most hard moments of my life", Chiba, 89, said in a statement issued by the Ahmad Kathrada Foundation.

"He tightly held my hand, it was profoundly heartbreaking", Kathrada said in 2013.

In terms of deprivation, the worst deprivation was the lack of children (on the island) I saw a child, and touched a child, after 20 years. "I would only have done so when I thought that some important organisational matters compel me to raise my concerns", Kathrada wrote.

Kathrada's letter‚ written nearly a year ago‚ still speaks to the current state of affairs in South Africa.

In April a year ago Kathrada called on Zuma to resign after South Africa's highest court found that Zuma had violated his oath of office by refusing to pay back public money spent on upgrading his rural home.

The court made the finding after Zuma had refused to abide by an order to pay back some of the millions of dollars in public money spent on upgrading his rural home.

I am not a political analyst‚ but I am now driven to ask: "Dear Comrade President‚ don't you think your continued stay as president will only serve to deepen the crisis of confidence in the government of the country?"

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