Luthulis’ hunt for the truth

‘We don’t be­lieve train ex­pla­na­tion’

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - YOLISA TSWANYA

FIFTY years after the death of former ANC pres­i­dent Chief Al­bert Luthuli, his fam­ily wants fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his “mys­te­ri­ous death”.

Apartheid au­thor­i­ties said Luthuli was run over by a train and killed, but his daugh­ter, Al­bertina Luthuli, said there were a num­ber of things that did not make sense and still haunts them.

Al­bertina said the fam­ily re­jects that it was an ac­ci­dent and be­lieved her fa­ther was killed be­cause of who he was.

“The pur­pose now is to find out from peo­ple that were there at the time.

“First, the story was that it was a windy day and he didn’t hear the train, they said his hear­ing was de­fec­tive. That is ut­ter non­sense. He was an ex­tremely care­ful per­son, he was not reck­less. He took cau­tion. That was his na­ture. He walked that route many times.”

She said hos­pi­tal records did not sup­port what au­thor­i­ties had told the fam­ily. Al­bertina said her fa­ther died shortly after a visit he had with Robert Kennedy in 1966, and said the fam­ily be­lieved there could be a link.

“They (the apartheid gov­ern­ment) did not want Kennedy to meet with him in 1962, then my fa­ther died a few years later… they wanted to si­lence my fa­ther, but they could not suc­ceed. It was a great frus­tra­tion for them. No mat­ter what they did they couldn’t make them dis­ap­pear, the ban­ning or­ders did not achieve any­thing so they de­cided to make it fi­nal.” Luthuli died on July 21, 1967. Al­bertina said the fam­ily was still look­ing for clo­sure. “I still mourn him to this day. Some­times you get a lump in your throat and a few tears run… I am do­ing my best to fol­low in his foot­steps.”

ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said the party had not heard about the fam­ily’s in­ten­tions but said should they ap­proach it for as­sis­tance, it would help.

“Any­one that comes to the ANC for help, we are al­ways ready to lis­ten. If they come, we would be will­ing to help.”

The South African Na­tional Civic Or­gan­i­sa­tion said it sup­ported the fam­ily’s call for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion as it would al­low them and mil­lions across the world to find clo­sure.

Na­tional spokesman Jabu Mahlangu said Luthuli was a fear­less leader and a sym­bol of peace and unity, hence his ef­fort was recog­nised when he be­came the first African to be awarded the No­bel Prize for Peace.

“Chief Luthuli car­ried the con­vic­tion that apartheid de­grades all who are party to it and the op­ti­mism that whites would sooner or later be com­pelled to change heart and ac­cept a shared so­ci­ety.

“It is im­por­tant for those who be­lieved in his vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship to look for an­swers re­gard­ing the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death.”

PIC­TURE: RANJITH KELLY

JUS­TICE SOUGHT: Chief Al­bert Luthuli at his spaza shop in Groutville, KwaZulu-Natal, in the 1960s. His fam­ily don’t be­lieve apartheid au­thor­i­ties’ claims that he was ac­ci­dently knocked down by a train in 1967.

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