S. African anti-apartheid activist Kathrada dies
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
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.