We couldn’t agree with the Kathrada family on logistics – GCIS

2017-04-01 12:50
Ahmed Kathrada. (News24, File)

Ahmed Kathrada. (News24, File)

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Johannesburg – Government communications says it couldn’t agree with the family of anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and had no choice but to cancel his official memorial service.

The event was set to take place in Soweto on Saturday but was cancelled on Friday afternoon. Government made the announcement through a statement saying the memorial service would not go ahead but failed to provide reasons.

Kathrada’s wife Barbara Hogan, his foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation then announced that they, along with the South African Communist Party would go ahead with an event to honour the man fondly known as “Uncle Kathy’s” legacy.

“I cannot tell how it was cancelled,” President Jacob Zuma’s spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga told journalists on the side-lines of a swearing in ceremony the president held for new members of his executive.

“All I can say is President Zuma declared a special official funeral for Mr Kathrada and he directed everyone in government to make sure it was a success,” he added.

Ngqulunga said different departments were tasked with making the sure the event takes place.

Zuma was not set to attend the event, he also did not pitch at Kathrada’s funeral after the family requested that him not to speak. The presidency released a statement in this regard, with Zuma confirming that in keeping with the wishes of the family he would not participate in the stalwart’s final farewell.

“He couldn’t cancel a memorial service he was not a part of in the first place, he was not a speaker and he was not going there. He is just not involved,” said his spokesperson.

'No other choice'

Acting Director General at Government communications Donald Liphoko confirmed that the arrangements were abandoned because government and the family could not see eye to eye on logistics around the event.

“The funeral planning committee made an assessment and our view was that logistically it wasn’t going to be possible to implement the funeral the way we had wanted,” he said.

Logistically it just wasn’t possible for us to pull it off, he emphasised.

Liphoko said the government had been trying to work with the family on the event but that “Government communications says it couldn’t agree with the family of anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada and had no choice but to cancel his official memorial service, hence the event was called off."

"A funeral of this magnitude needs a whole lot of government departments to make it happen,” said the GCIS DG.

"Government would need to set up facilities, water, make sure the correct media procedures are set up,” he explained.

But when told by News24 this is not a unique request as government often hosts similar events of this magnitude, Liphoko responded “yes, when we can work with the families and agree."

He refused to discuss the family’s bone of contention over the logistics and implementation of the memorial service.

“We don’t generally share those things, we just don’t have a protocol of sharing agreements or disagreements, if we agreed funeral goes ahead if not, you have what’s happened now,” he said.

Gauteng ANC has since announced that it would join in the memorial service in honour of the late struggle hero.

A memorial service for Kathrada will take place at the Johannesburg City Hall on Saturday afternoon.

Read more on:    anc  |  ahmed kathrada

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