South Africans must 'honour Kathrada and his life’s work' - Goldberg

2017-03-28 09:10
Denis Goldberg (City Press)

Denis Goldberg (City Press)

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TIMELINE: Ahmed Kathrada through the years

2017-03-28 07:12

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has confirmed that 87-year-old stalwart Ahmed Kathrada died in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg.WATCH

Johannesburg – One of the remaining two Rivonia trialists, Denis Goldberg, has described Ahmed Kathrada’s death as a terrible loss at a time when South Africa needed to learn from his values the most.

Kathrada passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg.

His foundation’s director Neeshan Balton confirmed the struggle veteran passed away peacefully.

Kathrada, fondly known as Uncle Kathy, underwent surgery for a blood clot on the brain earlier this month but experienced post-operative complications. He also contracted pneumonia which affected both his lungs, and on Monday his foundation announced that his condition had worsened and would continue to deteriorate.

Goldberg, who had not heard the news in the morning, said he had received a call on Monday night of "Uncle Kathy’s" worsening condition. 

"We have to honour his life and life’s work," Goldberg said on Tuesday.

'Bond of shared experience'

He said Kathrada’s belief of non-racialism was a value South Africans still needed to work towards.

"Of course we have to deal with the historic apartheid legacy that the African majority are the most oppressed but we cannot rectify this at the expense of the minorities," said the Rivonia trialist.

Black people, Indians, coloured people and whites have to somehow walk a line of respect for each other. It is difficult, but it has to be done otherwise South Africa is in for a lot of unhappiness, added the ANC stalwart.

"I am so sorry he’s gone… he was there, he wasn’t well and spoke, and when he did speak, he spoke very strongly in a good firm voice," said Goldberg.

Goldberg, in reflecting on Kathrada, said they had a lovely relationship.

"You know if you had been through a trial together and you faced death together there’s a bond. Even if you don’t see each other often, there is a bond of a shared experience," said the youngest remaining trialist.

"People you respect and admire leaving you all alone – actually it’s not a nice feeling," he continued.

Respect for others

Goldberg told News24 that he didn’t want to be the only remaining Rivonia trialist. He said although Kathrada and Andrew Mlangeni were of ill health, he felt he still needed them alongside him.

He said the last time he saw Kathrada was at the Drakenstein prison in February. This was the correctional facility which used to be called Victor Verster prison, where former president Nelson Mandela was released in 1990 after spending 27 years behind bars.

"When Kathy came... I was astounded by how frail he looked," said Goldberg.

He said that he believed the blood clot on the veteran’s brain was possibly the result of a fall he had that day.

"I had wondered what caused the fall, was it a stroke or a minor incident? But these things tend to go with age," said Goldberg.

The veteran said he would always remember his comrade for the respect he showed others and his close friend Madiba.

Read more on:    denis goldberg  |  ahmed kathrada  |  johannesburg

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