Jacob Zuma announces ‘special official funeral’ for Kathrada

President Jacob Zuma has reacted to the passing of ANC struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada by declaring a “special official funeral” will be held.

Zuma extended his condolences to Kathrada’s wife and struggle veteran Barbara Hogan, and to his family and members of the ANC. The president has instructed that the national flag must fly at half mast until the evening of an official memorial service for Kathrada.

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said that Kathrada had requested a small and intimate funeral, rather than the state funeral usually bestowed upon South African leaders and influencers. The funeral will be held on Wednesday morning.

Zuma said that the official ceremony the president has planned will be announced in due course and that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would lead Kathrada’s send-off within government.

Zuma described Kathrada as “the much-loved stalwart”, remembering Kathrada’s involvement in the anti-apartheid struggle and his imprisonment in Robben Island.

In April 2016, Kathrada penned an open letter to Zuma, urging the president to step down after rumours of a state capture grew and the Constitutional Court ruled that Zuma had failed to uphold the Constitution.

“Now that the court has found that the president failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution as the supreme law, how should I relate to my president?,” Kathrada wrote.

“If we are to continue to be guided by growing public opinion and the need to do the right thing, would he not seriously consider stepping down?”

Kathrada was among the last remaining survivors from the Rivonia Trial. The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation announced his death on Monday morning at 87 after he spent weeks in hospital following complications from brain surgery.

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