Parliament Officially pays tribute to Comrade Ahmed Kathrada

13 June 2017

The National Assembly today officially paid tribute to former Member of the Assembly and anti-apartheid struggle stalwart, Isithwalandwe Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada. Uncle Kathy, as he was affectionately known passed away in March 2017 following a short illness at the age of 87 years.

Uncle Kathy became politically conscious when he was 17 years old and participated in the Passive Resistance Campaign of the South African Indian Congress. In the 1940's, his political activities against the apartheid regime intensified, culminating in his banning in 1954. In 1956, Kathrada was amongst the 156 Treason Trialists together with President Nelson Mandela and comrade Walter Sisulu, who were later acquitted. He was banned and placed under a number of house arrests, after which he joined the political underground movement to continue his political work.

He was also one of the eight Rivonia Trialists of 1963, who after being arrested in a police swoop of the Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia were sentenced to life imprisonment on Robben Island. Uncle Kathy spent 26 years in prison, 18 years of which were on Robben Island.

After his release and the unbanning of the ANC, he was elected to the ANC's National Executive Committee (NEC) in 1989, heading the organization's Public Relations Department until 1994. He was elected to Parliament in 1994 and served as a Parliamentary Counsellor to his long-time friend and confidante, the late former President Nelson Mandela, with whom he was incarcerated on Robben Island.

While in prison, Kathrada pursued his academic studies and obtained a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History and Criminology, a Bachelor of Bibliography in Library Science and African Politics as well as two BA Honours degrees from the University of South Africa (UNISA) in African Politics and History. He was also awarded four Honorary Degrees, including one from the University of Missouri.

Uncle Kathy has left an indelible footprint which can never be erased and a source of wisdom that will benefit South Africans from generations to generations. His life is a lesson of humility, tolerance, resilience and a steadfast commitment to principle.

Parliament sends its condolences to his beloved partner comrade Barbara Hogan, the Kathrada family, his broader family in the African National Congress.
May Uncle Kathy rest in peace.

Hamba kahle qawe lamaqhawe.

Nonceba Mhlauli:
Media Liaison Officer
072 623 3462