Rivonia Trialists speak out
Ahmed Kathrada and fellow Rivonia Trial accused Denis Goldberg had some strong words for young and current South African leaders in speeches they gave after being awarded the Freedom of Sedibeng District Municipality.
On Friday, the octogenarians spoke of how “disappointed and disturbed” they were that many now thought they were sellouts.
Goldberg (82) said after lunch: “We’ve come a long way and people have the right to their opinions, but I do not feel like my life has been wasted as I am still active in my community and have the right to be impatient with the current pace of things too.” The two were supposed to be joined by their fellow former accused Andrew Mlangeni, but he was in hospital with a heart ailment.
Earlier, Kathrada (86) told South Africans that there remained much to be achieved.
“Twenty-one years in the life of an individual is a long time, but in the life of a nation is not a long time,” he said.
“We can never be satisfied; we have achieved quite a lot, but much more still needs to be done. People are impatient – Rhodes must fall, but they haven’t said rain must fall. I agree with their demands, but I don’t believe in some of the actions they take.”
Kathrada said he was pleased with how the students conducted themselves during the protests, showing discipline and not being provoked with tear gas and water cannons.
“When I was in Parliament a few months ago, I witnessed the discipline of the students during their protest. It’s a tribute to some of the young people who are at the forefront of the current struggle,” he added. Goldberg wanted to know why tertiary education was so expensive.
“I’m concerned that there are students who are capable of university education, but don’t get it, because their families are not able to raise the funds. I know government has responded by allocating many billions of rands to overcome that,” he said.
“But I also know that there are many students who are not able to get this education because they cannot get registered. The idea of fees and remand of fees I understand, and I do understand the universities’ problems, but I don’t understand why education is so expensive – no one has been able to explain that to me. They just say that is how much it costs, and no one can say any more than that.”
Both leaders told South Africans that if they wanted a change in the current leadership of the country, citizens would have to stand up and make that happen.
The two frail-looking men will head to London next week to receive the freedom of that city.