Kathrada: ‘My comrades are coming home’

2015-02-15 06:30

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Struggle veteran and Rivonia triallist Ahmed Kathrada says he is happy to know that his “comrades” JB Marks and Moses Kotane are finally coming home.

A South African delegation has flown to Moscow in Russia to exhume and repatriate the remains of the celebrated struggle heroes.

The delegation, which left the country on Friday, consists of civil servants and members of Marks and Kotane’s families.

“In 1962 I drove Kotane twice to Durban where he met Chief Albert Luthuli. I was not part of those meetings. I was much younger than him, and I was just his driver,” Kathrada told City Press on Friday.

Kathrada said Kotane didn’t have formal schooling. “He attended night schools but managed to grow up to become one of the leading theoreticians of the SA Communist Party (SACP).”

Kathrada called Marks “an intellectual and powerful public speaker”.

“He lived in Sophiatown and was highly respected by everyone.”

Marks, who was born in Ventersdorp, died in exile in Moscow when he was 69. He had risen through the ranks of the SACP to become its chairman in 1953 and was, at the time of his death in 1972, also the then-banned ANC’s treasurer.

Kotane was the secretary-general of the SACP from 1939 until his death in 1978. He also died in Moscow, at the age of 73. He was born in Rustenburg.

The presidency has announced that the two will receive special official funerals reserved for distinguished people.

On Thursday, during the state of the nation address in Parliament, President Jacob Zuma announced the repatriation.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj told City Press Kotane would be buried in March in Pella in North West, while Marks would be laid to rest in Ventersdorp, also in North West, on March 22.

“The president has instructed that the national flag fly at half-mast at every flag station in the country from March 9 until the evening of March 22,” Maharaj said.

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