‘We still need you‚ Uncle Kathy’
At a heartfelt and symbolic inter faith prayer meeting at Liliesleaf in Rivonia‚ where freedom fighters were arrested in 1963‚ prayers were heard for the speedy recovery of Ahmed Kathrada.
Kathrada earlier this month underwent brain surgery and his difficult recovery has led to concern by many of his family and others.
Among those in attendance was Advocate George Bizos‚ Isu Chiba‚ Johannesburg executive mayor Herman Mashaba and Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom‚ who is also the chairman of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation board.
Anti-apartheid activist Sophie de Bruyn and Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi were also among around 100 others who gathered to wish ‘Uncle Kathy’ well.
“We are not here to pay tribute; that gets done some time when all of us move on to other pastures. We are here to say Kathy get better man‚ and get better fast‚” said Hanekom.
“We have three remaining Rivonia Trialists with us today‚ of which Uncle Kathy is one. It is no coincidence that Uncle Kathy was such a dear and close friend to Nelson Mandela‚ because they are the same‚ think the same‚ project the same‚ stand for the same values‚” Hanekom continued.
“When we get together like this on human rights day‚ it’s about honouring Uncle Kathy and the many others who fought to bring us the human rights we enjoy today.”
Mashaba meanwhile shared a memory of when he met Kathrada at his home shortly after his release from prison.
“I am here on behalf of the residents of Johannesburg to say to Kathy and his family‚ please get well‚ this country still needs you.
“And we know that your contribution throughout your life is going to impact not just on the current generation‚ it’s the kind of contribution that is going to be there forever‚” Mashaba said.
Advocate George Bizos said he was saddened by having to speak in Kathrada’s absence.
“We have met many times and spoke on the same platform and he inevitably said I don’t know what George Bizos is doing here‚ he sent us to jail!
“And then he would pause and say‚ George I will tell them the other part which would please you‚ you saved our lives‚ thank you very much.
“I hope to see him again at another function‚ where he will say the same thing‚ and my response will be the same.”
Director of the Kathrada Foundation Neeshan Balton hit out at ‘fake news’ that did the rounds on social media last week saying Kathrada had died‚ calling it sick and malicious. “In the last 48 hours there has been remarkable recovery; He is no longer in a sedated state‚ he is conscious. All of the seizures that accompany the operation have now stopped as well‚ his speech is improving‚ although that will take some time‚” Balton said.
“But his condition still remains unpredictable with no time frames for recovery.”
Balton emphasised it would be the Kathrada Foundation and close family who would make any pronouncements if Kathrada’s medical condition should deteriorate at all.
Kathrada was among liberation movement leaders of uMkhonto we Sizwe and the ANC arrested at Liliesleaf in July 1963.
Found guilty along with Nelson Mandela and the other Rivonia Trialists‚ he spent 26 years and three months in jail on Robben Island.