Anti-apartheid icon Ahmed Kathrada laid to rest

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Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 29 March 2017| 30 Jumadul Aakhir 1438

South African President Jacob Zuma did not attend the funeral amid tensions between the late Kathrada and the ANC

South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada was laid to rest in an interfaith ceremony in Johannesburg.

Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail for acts of sabotage against South Africa’s white minority government, died Tuesday at the age 87 after struggling with a brief illness following brain surgery, his foundation said.

Al Jazeera’s Tania Page, reporting from Johannesburg, said hundreds of people were expected to attend Wednesday’s service, which was open to the public.

A number of dignitaries were  present at the funeral, including former South African president and Kathrada Foundation board member Kgalema Motlanthe, who spoke at the service.

Zuma will not attend’
President Jacob Zuma, who had been criticised by Kathrada, is not attending the funeral, the president’s office said.
“President Zuma will not attend the funeral and memorial service in compliance with the wishes of the family,” according to a statement from the president’s office.

Al Jazeera’s Tania Page said the family had welcomed Zuma to attend, but asked him not to speak.

Page said tension between Kathrada and Zuma “stemmed from the fact that Ahmed Kathrada was not a man to hold back and speak out when he thought it was necessary.”

She added that, according to Kathrada’s foundation, the anti-apartheid activist put the values and ethics of the country ahead of any loyalty to any party.

Last year, Kathrada joined a movement of veteran figures who were critical of the governing ANC and its current leaders, particularly Zuma, who has been mired in mounting allegations of corruption. He wrote an open letter to Zuma, asking him to step down.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the funeral on the government’s behalf.

Source – Al Jazeera