Struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada died aged 87 in the early hours of Tuesday morning in Donald Gordon Hospital after he contracted pneumonia following an operation related to blood clotting earlier in March. Political parties and organisations paid tribute to him throughout the morning.
The Democratic Alliance
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. -- Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance.
The Economic Freedom Fighters
The EFF is immensely saddened of the passing of struggle stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada. Revolutionary condolences to the Kathrada family, South Africans and the world at large.
Born 21 August in the year 1929, Ahmed Kathrada departs from this canal world at the age 87. Having awarded four Honorary Doctorates, including the University of Missouri, Michigan State University and the University of Kentucky, his efforts are recognized by the world as he formed part of the collective that lived to defeat the murderous Apartheid regime.
As a country, we must all learn from the selflessness of Uncle Kathy, always prioritizing the marginalized and ensuring that their voices are heard and respected. We must adopt an uncompromising posture at all times in the fight against corruption as he did. We must be prepared, as he did, to pay even with our lives and imprisonment if needs be as he did.
The EFF stands in solidarity with his family and loved ones during this difficult time. We call on all South Africans to unite as we bid Ahmed Kathrada a final goodbye.
Rest in Revolutionary peace, Uncle Kathy!
The Congress of the People
Congress of the People has received the painful news of the tragic death of one of the icons of our struggle for a non racial, non sexist and democratic country, comrade Ahmed Kathrada.
Our hearts and sympathies goes out to the family of uncle Kathy and we shall keep them in our prayers during this difficult moment. Their pain and loss is shared by all in the nation who had the hope of him continuing to inspire and guide the nation to attain the ideals of social justice and a better country for all.
We pay tribute to his gallant struggle and sacrifices over many decades to build a better tomorrow for all. He belongs in the special league of heroes and heroines who uncompromisingly believed in the sanctity of the truth and the correctness of their vision of a South Africa that belongs to all.
More recently he has been unflinching in fighting against the morally repugnant scourge of corruption and bad governance. He knew very well that this scourge is a betrayal of the ideals of a better country.
South Africa is sadly losing principled and moral leadership with integrity, courageous selflessness and a deep commitment to the people as personified by Ahmed Kathrada. We must emulate their type of leadership as its the only way to genuinely rebuild our nation and an inclusive social cohesion.
COPE joins the millions of our people in paying tribute to this beloved son of the soil and a distinguished leader of our nation.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
FW de Klerk Foundation
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 on behalf of Former President FW de Klerk