'Humble, patriot, principled' - tributes pour in for 'giant' ANC veteran Ben Turok

2019-12-09 16:34
Professor Ben Turok. (Photo by Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Robert Tshabalala)

Professor Ben Turok. (Photo by Gallo Images / Financial Mail / Robert Tshabalala)

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Tributes are pouring in for struggle stalwart and anti-apartheid activist Ben Turok, who died on Monday morning at the age of 92. 

In a statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed sadness, describing Turok as a "humble patriot of our nation".

"Professor Turok made enormous personal sacrifices which helped us attain our freedom. He was a principled freedom fighter, dedicated to non-racialism and the unity of our nation and of our liberation movement," the president said.

"He was a true democrat and servant of our people who stood up to injustice, corruption and the abuse of public office, both during our struggle and into the democratic dispensation."

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said the party was "gravely saddened" by Turok's passing.

Magashule said Turok had dedicated his life to the struggle against racism and oppression. Turok was one of the party delegates tasked with drawing up and presenting the Freedom Charter in 1955.

Magashule said Turok was banned in 1955 and arrested for treason in 1956. He also served three years in prison for his anti-apartheid activism during the 1960s.

Turok was convicted under the Explosives Act in 1962. He also spent more than 20 years in exile and returned to South Africa in 1990, Magashule said.

He served as Member of Parliament in 1995, until his retirement in 2014.

"Throughout this life, Comrade Turok was unwavering, vocal and unambiguous in his commitment to the freedom of the people of South Africa…

"The ANC and South Africa is much poorer for the loss of this giant of our struggle who, until his very last days, continued to follow the dictates of his conscience, remaining a vocal and faithful member of our movement."

The ANC chief whip's office in Parliament described Turok as a "staunch" member of the party. He was also a person who dedicated his life to making South Africa free, equal and fair.

"As the ANC, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Uncle Ben, as we fondly called him."

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen also extended condolences to Turok's family, saying he had dedicated his life to equality, freedom and liberation in a time where it may have been easier for him to remain silent.

"He served his country with humility and principle and always spoke truth to power, whether [it] was during the oppressive apartheid era or our new democratic dispensation - he was fearless in his pursuit to ensure that South Africa was a better place for all who live in it."

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  ben turok  |  johannesburg  |  politics
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