Obituary: Lecturer, activist Mohamed

2013-07-10 00:00

UNIVERSITY of Witwatersrand mathematics professor and struggle stalwart Ismail Mohamed (82) died on Saturday after a long illness.

Professor Mohamed was an activist in the 50s, and spent long periods in detention following the 1976 student uprising in Soweto.

As a result of his political activity, he was dismissed from his post as maths lecturer at the University of the Western Cape.

He was the leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the then Transvaal and spent some time in Pietermaritzburg in 1985, when he was initially one of the accused in the case against 16 UDF leaders that was held at the historic Pietermaritzburg College Road court.

Mohamed was a co-accused with Mewa Ramgobin, Albertina Sisulu, Frank Chikane and others. The case became known as the Pietermaritzburg Treason Trial.

He was dropped as an accused in the KZN case and became an accused in the Delmas Treason Trial. It became known at that time as the longest trial in the history of South Africa, lasting from 1985 to 1988. The case involved 22 Transvaal United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders.

Mohamed lectured at the University of Lesotho in Roma before joining the mathematics department at Wits University.

He served as a member of the first democratically elected parliament in 1994, and as an ANC parliamentary representative for over two terms.

Wits University’s vice-chancellor, Professor Adam Habib, recalled that Mohamed was the vice-president of the Transvaal branch of the UDF.

“Professor Mohamed campaigned fiercely against the Tricameral Parliament and was vociferously outspoken on human rights violations and the need for the UDF to campaign for democracy,” said Habib.

He added that Mohamed had made an important contribution to the university, the struggle against apartheid, and to the freedom of South ­Africa.

The university offered its deepest condolences to Professor Mohamed’s wife, Ellen, his five children and his grandchildren. A memorial service will be held in his honour on Saturday at St Andrew’s Church in Coronationville, Johannesburg.

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