Statement by Minister Nathi Mthethwa on the passing of Cde Ahmed Kathrada

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28 Mar 2017

He became politically active at age 17 and stood up against injustice, later joining the African National Congress.  He was among those arrested by apartheid police at a meeting at the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia. Alongside his comrades late President Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Govan Mbeki, he stood trial. This became known as the "Rivonia Trial". He was sentenced to life imprisonment and hard labour. Kathrada was imprisoned for 26 years on Robben Island.

He was not a peacetime hero but a hero of the revolution, one who earned his stripes and paid his dues at great personal cost. His too was no easy walk to freedom.

But he was a man for all seasons and fought a good fight from the darkest decades of apartheid to the summer of freedom and beyond. His contribution remains and will stand as a shining light to us all.

On the passing of Madiba, he said that:

"Mandela, while we may be drowned in sorrow and grief, we salute you as a fighter for freedom to the end. Farewell my elder brother, my mentor, my leader. With all the energy and determination at our command, we pledge to join the people of South Africa and the world to perpetuate the ideals and values for which you have devoted your life."

Now we pledge in his memory that we too shall "perpetuate the ideals and values for which you have devoted your life."

We have worked closely with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation in fighting racism and will continue to do so and espouse the values of non-racialism, non-sexism and democracy which Uncle Kathy held so dear.

His solid contribution lives on through all of us who must pick up the spear from where he has left it. Long live the spirit of Kathrada.

Our heartfelt condolences to his family, comrades and friends in South Africa and worldwide.

For more info: contact Lisa Combrinck at 082 821 4886