Asmal family thanks supporters
Johannesburg - Kader Asmal's family on Saturday said they were extremely grateful for the support received from the Presidency, the ANC, their friends and colleagues.
The ANC stalwart was cremated in Maitland, Cape Town on Saturday, family spokesperson Allan Taylor said.
"(Asmal's wife) Louise Asmal and her family would like to thank the public and the media for observing their wishes that the funeral be kept a private one. They are also extremely grateful for the support received from Presidency, the ANC and their many friends and colleagues."
Taylor said the funeral service was attended by family and a number of close friends.
Proceedings were handled by Professor Brian O'Connell, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) where Asmal was appointed as a Professor.
A eulogy was delivered by Professor Jakes Gerwel, the former Vice-Chancellor of UWC and also the former Director-General in the Presidency.
"Tributes were paid by various members of family and friends, including Albertina Luthuli, the daughter of the late Chief Albert Luthuli, the ANC leader whom Prof Asmal so deeply respected and admired."
He added that Asmal "did not embrace any particular religion" but in recognition of his Muslim origins, prayers were said at Claremont Mosque on Friday.
"...And later in the day his body underwent the Islamic ritual of bathing, shrouding and prayer. His body was then placed in a simple coffin constructed from alien timber cut down by the Working for Water programme which Professor Asmal had initiated whilst he was Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry."
The Star reported on Friday that a dispute in Asmal's family as to whether he should be buried or cremated was resolved.
Asmal was born into a conservative Muslim family, whose customs dictate that a person be buried shortly after death.
Asmal's wife, however, said he favoured cremation.
His nephew, Farouk Asmal, and sister Fawzia Peer, on Thursday requested that he be buried according to Muslim rites, and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) was called on to mediate.
"We are totally against the fact that he is going to be cremated but, according to his wife, this is what he wanted," said Peer.
She said that Asmal, his wife and two sons were agnostic.
MJC spokesperson Nabeweya Malik said: "The burial is the prerogative of the family, and they have made a decision to cremate... if that is his decision, the MJC respects it..."
Asmal died at the age of 76 in hospital in Cape Town on Wednesday after having a heart attack on Tuesday.