Struggle stalwart Kisten Moonsamy dies

2015-04-24 00:00

DURBAN struggle stalwart Kisten Moonsamy (82) died on Tuesday.

The former trade unionist was ­sentenced to 14 years in prison for sabotage in 1964. It was the same year that Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonia treason trialists were sent to Robben Island.

“He was a unifying figure. On ­Robben Island he was one of the few people that could talk to all the various political party members serving time,” said fellow Robben Island inmate Sunny Singh.

Singh said Moonsamy grew up in Clairwood, South of Durban, and ­later joined a textile workers’ union, paving his path to politics.

“He was one of the first to join ­Umkhonto we Sizwe and he was involved in a series of acts of sabotage in Durban,” said Singh

The 14 years of hard labour in prison took its toll on Moonsamy’s health, and he struggled with health complications for the remainder of his life.

“He was jovial and full of jokes and he bridged the divide between the various groups,” said Singh.

Moonsamy, an ardent ANC ­supporter, also held the position of SACP treasurer, and is often credited with turning Durban medical ­students into politically conscious activists in the 1980s.

Friend and struggle colleague ­Yogan Moodley recalled Moonsamy as a “rare human being”.

“Our friendship started in about 1978 when he was released from prison. I remember meeting him outside Durban’s prison. He was heavily watched by the security police. He was not afraid. He was one of the bravest fellows of his time.”

Moodley said Moonsamy was ­expected to be awarded the Order of Luthuli at the postponed national ­orders ceremony hosted by the ­Presidency. President Jacob Zuma conveyed the country’ condolences to Moonsamy’s family.

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