Be brave, see you soon - Kathrada's friend wishes him well

2017-03-16 22:47
Fellow former Robben Island inmate Laloo Chiba visited struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada in hospital. (File, supplied, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

Fellow former Robben Island inmate Laloo Chiba visited struggle veteran Ahmed Kathrada in hospital. (File, supplied, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation)

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Johannesburg – A close friend of ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada has a message for him as he recovers in hospital.

"Be brave. And we hope to see him soon outside of the hospital," said Abduley Jassat on Thursday afternoon.

He was speaking on the sidelines of an Ahmed Kathrada lecture delivered by Professor Achille Mbembe at the Management College of Southern Africa in Johannesburg.

On Thursday the college honoured Kathrada by naming a lecture room the Ahmed Kathy Kathrada Auditorium.

Reminiscing on years gone by, Jassat said he and Kathrada were comrades in the Transvaal Indian Congress and eventually in uMkhonto weSizwe during the early 1960s.

"We were political allies," he said.

Marches, exile

Some of his fondest memories of Kathrada, those he can still remember, include working together.

"At my age you cannot remember these things. We don't even bother to think about these things but I remember that back then, we worked as a group."

Jassat said the most important thing was that Kathy, as Kathrada is fondly known, got him involved in the struggle at a young age.

"In the late 50s we took the whole Indian high school where I was doing matric on a march to the magistrate's court where some senior leaders, including [Nelson] Mandela, were on trial. These are some of the things we participated in."

He said during the initial stages of the formation of uMkhonto weSizwe, they were not very experienced.

"We had no training but that was our life. In 1963 when the Rivonia arrests were made, I was detained in Marshall Square, I was in prison for about four-and-a-half years and four of us eventually escaped from prison and left the country."

Jassat said he was in exile for more than 30 years.

Kathrada 'not critical'

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation spokesperson Neeshen Balton reassured South Africans on Thursday that reports that Kathrada was on life support were false.

Balton said: "Contrary to a lot of social media, he is not in a critical state, he is not on a life support system. All of his organs are functioning. He is being kept in a sedated condition."

Balton apologised on behalf of Kathrada, saying he would have liked to attend the function, but "due to unforeseen circumstances, he couldn't be here".

The 87-year-old, who has been an activist since the age of 12, has been in hospital for some time now.

"He is kept in a sedated state and is not communicating at the moment. We are not able to allow visitors at this time, simply because this kind of operation cannot withstand any infection, we have had to decline ministers and mayors [from] coming," Balton said.

Read more on:    anc  |  ahmed kathrada  |  johannesburg

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