Citizen Reporter
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2 minute read
3 May 2017
6:28 pm

Kathrada foundation director tells how struggle icon ‘agonised’ over letter to Zuma

Citizen Reporter

In the letter, Kathrada said it was 'painful' for him to write to Zuma, and now the foundation's director has provided insight into just how the struggle icon drafted and redrafted the letter.

130705. Cape Town. Ahmed Kathrada speaking to the Cape Argus about his days spent with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. Kathrada's involvement in the anti-apartheid activities of the African National Congress (ANC) led him to his long-term imprisonment following the Rivonia Trial, in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison. Following his release in 1990, he was elected to serve as a member of parliament, representing the ANC. Picture Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

The director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation described how the late struggle icon “agonised for months about writing that letter” in which he asked President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Ahmed Kathrada died at the age of 87 on March 28. He was among the eight accused sentenced to life imprisonment in the 1963-1964 Rivonia Trial. Last year, he wrote an open letter to express his concerns to Zuma.

READ MORE: Step down comrade president – Kathrada

In paying tribute to Ahmed Kathrada at a memorial service, former president Kgalema Motlanthe read a portion of the letter which was met with applause.

READ MORE: READ: Kgalema Motlanthe’s tribute to Ahmed Kathrada

In the letter, Kathrada said “in all these years it never occurred to me that the time would come when I would feel obliged to express my concerns to the honourable president” and expressed that it was “therefore, painful” for him to write the letter to Zuma.

On Wednesday, the foundation’s director, Neeshan Balton, described to the attendees of a memorial service for Kathrada in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal, just how the struggle icon had “agonised for months about writing that letter” and that he had drafted and redrafted it. This is according to a report by IOL which further quoted Balten as saying, “In the end he decided that his loyalty was more to the country than the party and he drafted the letter and sent it.”

Balton further said that the foundation would meet with its stakeholders in the coming months in a bid to redefine its role but that it would continue with its function of fighting racism.

He further reportedly described Kathrada as the foundation’s biggest fundraiser.

Also in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday, the African News Agency reported that renowned South African filmmaker Anant Singh paid tribute to the late anti-apartheid struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada during a session of the World Economic Forum on Africa. This is being held in Durban.

Singh, who produced a video tribute, said Kathrada was never afraid to speak out.

“After spending 26 years in prison with Nelson Mandela in prison, he did not want to become a politician, he just wanted to do what he could for the less fortunate, not only in South Africa, also in Palestine,” Singh said.

“He was never afraid to speak out and I think you have seen, not only in our country with people speaking out, but all over the world. You push the people to a certain point and they have to speak out.”

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