Struggle veterans remember Ahmed Kathrada

Ahmed Kathrada's former comrade Denis Goldberg described 'Kathy' as courageous during the struggle and in recent years for speaking out about the current leadership. Video: eNCA
Former deputy president Kgalema Mothlanthe looks back on the life of struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada. Video: eNCA
Struggle veteran and human rights lawyer George Bizos pays tribute to his friend Ahmed Kathrada, following his death on 28 March 2017. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG -  African National Congress (ANC) veteran Ahmed Kathrada passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said in a statement it was “deeply saddened to announce the passing on of ANC veteran Ahmed Kathrada (87) this morning, at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg”.

The foundation said Kathrada, who was affectionately known as “uncle Kathy”, passed away “peacefully” after a short period of illness, following brain surgery.

Kathrada will be buried according to Muslim religious rights at the West Park Cemetry on Wednesday. 

IN PICTURES: The life of Ahmed Kathrada

Derek Hanekom, chairperson of the Kathrada Foundation, was overcome with emotion saying he has lost a “revolutionary mentor and dear friend.

“Comrade Kathy was a gentle, humane and humble soul. He was a determined revolutionary who gave his entire life to the liberation struggle in our country.” he added.

WATCH: Tributes pour in for Ahmed Kathrada

Fellow Robben Island prisoner, Laloo ‘Isu’ Chiba (86) said that his comrade’s death has left a deep vacuum in his life. He spent 18 years on Robben Island, and was imprisoned shortly after Kathrada.

“I have worked with Kathy for over sixty years. He has been my strength in prison, my guide in political life and my pillar of strength in the most difficult moments of my life. Now he is gone,” said a visibly shaken Chiba.



Kathrada has had an illustrious political career having served between 1994 and 1999 as the parliamentary counsellor to late President Nelson Mandela.

Archbishop Tutu said on the death of Kathrada: "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."

READ: Tutu discharged from hospital

"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.A leader who embraced the simple life, who eschewed consumptiveness, who supported righteous causes at home and abroad, whose loyalty to the ANC extended, also, to criticising it."

"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."

Struggle veteran, Sophie de Bruyn said Kathrada was kind and outspoken when he needed to be:



Zenani Mandela has described Kathrada as her other father, and one of Madiba’s greatest friends:


Poet and activist Barbara Mase-kela says Ahmed Kathrada devoted his life to ending discrimination:





*Watch fellow struggle veterans Dennis Goldberg, former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe and George Bizos pay tribute to the life of Ahmed Kathrada in gallery above.

- Additional reporting ANA -



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