Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan received a standing ovation at the funeral of anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, as speakers expressed dissatisfaction with the state of the governing African National Congress (ANC) and its top leadership.
Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Neeshan Balton told Gordhan that Kathrada had planned to accompany the minister to court where his case with the country’s banks against the controversial Gupta family was being heard by a full bench of judges.
Balton then asked Gordhan to stand up.
“Uncle Kathy said that he would go along with PG [Pravin Gordhan] and accompany him to court. Pravin, irrespective of whether you are minister or not in days or weeks to come, you remain a true to the values and principles that Ahmed Kathrada would be proud of,” Balton said to a loud applause from the audience.
Kathrada, 87, was laid to rest at Johannesburg’s West Park Cemetery in accordance with the Muslim religious rights. Kathrada, affectionately known as “uncle Kathy”, died on Tuesday after a short illness following surgery to the brain to remove a blood clot.
Gordhan later told reporters that he was handling the current political climate and speculations that he would be removed from Treasury “with professionalism”. He added that the ceremony was “an inspiration”.
“It is a reminder why we are the ANC…why the ANC is in government and who are we there to serve. Mr Kathrada’s life was full of lessons, which I hope your generation and mine will heed in South Africa,” said Gordhan.
Earlier, former president Kgalema Motlanthe delivered the eulogy, stirring the sombre mood in the audience as he quoted Kathrada’s open letter to President Jacob Zuma, in which the struggle icon asked Zuma to resign. Zuma did not attend the funeral after the Kathrada family requested that he stay away.
“He penned a public letter to the president of our country in which he gave vent to his views about the condition of the State in which our nation finds itself. 354 days ago today, comrade Kathrada wrote this letter to which a reply has not been forthcoming, as you are aware,” Motlanthe said to a loud applause and cheering from the audience.
“Comrade Kathy took exception to the current culture of feeding frenzy, modal corruption, societal depravity, political dissolution and the brawls and sleaze enveloping human mind that would put to shame even some of the vilest political orders known to human history.”
Kathrada is survived by his wife Barbara Hogan, 67, also an ANC veteran and former Cabinet minister.