South Africa’s revered Indian-origin anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who was one of Nelson Mandela’s closest aides in his struggle to end the white minority rule, died in Johanesburg on Tuesday.
Kathrada, 87, died at the Donald Gordon Hospital after complications following a brain surgery, his foundation said.
Kathrada, who spent 26 years and 3 months in prison, including 18 years on the infamous Robben Island, was admitted to the hospital on March 4 initially for dehydration but doctors later picked up a clot in his brain which was subsequently removed.
After the operation, he had “experienced several health- related setbacks”, the Ahmad Kathrada Foundation said.
Kathrada will be buried according to Muslim religious rights on Wednesday, the foundation said.
“This is great loss to the African National Congress (ANC), the broader liberation movement and South Africa as a whole. Internationally, he was staunch in his support for the Palestinian struggle,” Neeshan Balton, Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, said.
‘Kathy’ was an inspiration to millions in different parts of the world.
South African President Jacob Zuma condoled the death of Kathrada, praising him for serving “selflessly throughout his adult life”.
He declared a special official funeral for him.
The President instructed that the national flag fly at half-mast throughout the country from Tuesday until the evening of the official memorial service.
The family has requested a private funeral ceremony, the President said.