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Mkhwanazi ‘was my big brother and a very brave cadre’‚ says Zuma in a tribute to his old comrade

06 December 2016 - 23:25 By Nathi Olifant

President Jacob Zuma has paid a brief glowing tribute to his fellow Robben Island prison inmate Riot Mkhwanazi‚ a man he called his big brother.

Zuma visited the home of Mkhwanazi on Tuesday afternoon in KwaDlangezwa near eMpangeni.

Mkhwanazi (83) who died on Sunday was a very close friend of Zuma as the two men were arrested together and spent 10 years on Robben Island.

"This man was my big brother. He was a very brave cadre. He was known and popular throughout the structures of the movement. We called him Sdumo samaKomanisi (dramatic communist). And I remember at one time he pitted us again the whites who gave us a good hiding‚" said Zuma amid laughter from the mourners.

Zuma said Mkhwanazi had risked his life and made many sacrifices during the liberation struggle.

He was also the first ANC councillor to win Ward 10 in uMhlathuze City after years of IFP domination.

"He lived and worked for the ANC and the people‚" said Zuma.

"We have a lost a disciplined veteran and a true revolutionary who sacrificed his youth and risked his life for the liberation of South Africa. He was passionate about political education and development programmes. We wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Mkhwanazi family and may his soul rest in peace‚” said Zuma.

KwaZulu-Natal ANC chair Sihle Zikalala said Mkhwanazi was an embodiment of an ANC cadre and veteran.

"He possessed the highest level of discipline which was his critical feature. He never uttered anything he was not sanctioned to say by the organisation. He always sought the mandate from the leadership. Moreover‚ Cde Riot was in touch with people‚" said Zikalala.

Mkhwanazi‚ was a recipient of the Order of Mendi for bravery.

In 1963‚ Mkhwanazi and Zuma were arrested together after trying to cross over to Botswana.

After being released he went into exile in Mozambique until the Nkomati Accord was signed between South Africa and Mozambique in 1984.

Mkhwanazi returned to South Africa in the early 1990s‚ along with other cadres who were in exile.

Zuma said he will attend Mkhwanazi's funeral this Sunday.

TMG Digital/Durban Newsroom