Kay Moonsamy: a fearless freedom fighter
DEMOCRACY did not come easily to South Africa. It took many decades of blood, sweat and tears.
Many, in fact, paid the ultimate price in their dogged fight for justice and liberation, and now that the war against apartheid is over, it is time to remember the many men, women and children who sacrificed so much so that we could enjoy the fruits of our newfound democracy.
When we look back on that list of heroes, several prominent names invariably stand out – names like Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Steve Biko, Monty Naicker, Albert Luthuli and Joe Slovo, to name only a few.
But we do the freedom Struggle a disservice when we fail to mention the countless number of perhaps less prominent anti-apartheid fighters, whose commitment and dedication to the cause of freedom was equal to that of the Mandelas and Sisulus.
One such stalwart was activist and Rivonia trialist Kay Moonsamy, who died last week after a long illness.
Moonsamy was no firebrand politician, just one of those honest and dedicated human beings whose respect for freedom and justice, and love for his country, was boundless.
As a young trade unionist in the 1940s and ’50s, he fought valiantly and fearlessly for the rights of workers, later taking on leading positions in the Natal Indian Congress alongside such respected stalwarts as Swaminathan Gounden, JN Singh, Monty Naicker, Ismail Meer and Billy Nair.
Arrests and arbitrary detention by the apartheid government did little to shake his resolve, nor did many bouts of interrogation and torture by the security police.
In fact, so strong was his commitment to the Struggle that he went into exile in 1965, leaving behind his wife and four children, ranging in age from a tender nine months to nine years. Those years away from his family must have been painful to bear, but Moonsamy was single-minded about his cause and mission.
On his return to South Africa in 1991, he was elected to office as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in KwaZulu-Natal, which he served with distinction.
It was only fitting that he was accorded a special provincial funeral after his death, which was attended by a host of political leaders.
Among the many tributes paid to Moonsamy was one by the KZN premier, Willies Mchunu, who expressed admiration for his fearlessness and unapologetic honesty, even when times were tough and demanding.
Rest in peace, Kay Moonsamy. You came from a special breed of freedom fighters, which our country so dearly needs as we navigate the future.