By Eliaser Ndeyanale
FORMER Congress of Democrats (CoD) Ben Ulenga remembered the late South African struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada for his integrity, commending him for his contribution to the fight against apartheid.
Ulenga met Kathrada, who was affectionately known as Uncle Kathy, in 1978 at the notorious Robben Island maximum security prison in Cape Town.
“He was one of the earliest recruits to Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the ANC’s military wing. He served in its regional command, identifying targets for sabotage operations.
“He was humble and had a quiet manner. Kathrada continued throughout his life to oppose abuse of power, weighing in on issues of national interest,” said Ulenga.
Struggle icon Andimba Toivo ya Toivo described Kathrada as “a brother and comrade”who fought bravely for his country’s independence.
“His passing away is a big loss for all of us,” said Ya Toivo who has also sent his message of condolences to the Kathrada family.
Veteran politician and former PLAN military commander, Helao Shityuwete said Kathrada was and independent thinker and altruistic. Shityuwete met Kathrada in 1972 at Robben Island.
Kathrada was one of Nelson Mandela’s closest colleagues in the struggle against white rule and a fellow Robben Island prisoner.
His activism against the white-minority apartheid regime 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.
The 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 Umkhonto we Sizwe.
In July 1963, police raided Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, a Johannesburg suburb where Kathrada and other senior activists had been meeting in secret.
At the Rivonia trial, eight of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour on Robben Island. His fellow prisoners included Mandela, Walter Sisulu and Denis Goldberg.
Born in 1929, Kathrada died on Tuesday aged 87 and was interred and at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg yesterday. In recent years he is remembered for breaking his silence to demand President Jacob Zuma’s resignation.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015