S. African anti-apartheid ac­tivist Kathrada dies

New Straits Times - - World -

JOHANNESBURG: Cel­e­brated South African anti-apartheid ac­tivist Ahmed Kathrada, a Robben Is­land pris­oner and one of Nel­son Man­dela’s clos­est col­leagues in the strug­gle against white rule, died yes­ter­day aged 87.

Kathrada was among those tried and jailed along­side Man­dela in the Rivo­nia trial in 1964, which drew world­wide at­ten­tion to the bru­tal­i­ties of the apartheid regime. He died in a hospi­tal here af­ter a short ill­ness fol­low­ing brain surgery, his char­ity foun­da­tion said.

Kathrada spent 26 years and three months in prison, 18 of which were on

Robben Is­land, the no­to­ri­ous jail off the coast of

Cape Town.

Af­ter the end of apartheid, he served from

1994 to 1999 as par­lia­men­tary coun­sel­lor to p r e s ident

M a ndela in the first African Na­tional Congress (ANC) gov­ern­ment.

Re­tired Arch­bishop Des­mond Tutu de­scribed Kathrada as “a man of re­mark­able gen­tle­ness, mod­esty and stead­fast­ness”, hail­ing him a moral leader of the anti-apartheid move­ment.

“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,” Tutu said.

Kathrada’s ac­tivism against apartheid rule started at the age of 17, when he was one of 2,000 “pas­sive re­sisters” ar­rested in 1946 for de­fy­ing laws that dis­crim­i­nated against In­dian South Africans.

ANC was banned in 1960, and two years later, Kathrada was placed un­der “house ar­rest”.

Soon af­ter­wards, he went un­der­ground to con­tinue the strug­gle as a mem­ber of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.

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