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Kathrada Foundation to take DA on Robben Island tour

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Kathrada Foundation to take DA on Robben Island tour

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane
Photo by Duane
DA Leader Mmusi Maimane

24th October 2017

By: Thabi Madiba
Creamer Media Senior Research Assistant and Reporter

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The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation will be taking the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) leadership to Robben Island on October 30.

The visit comes during the twenty-eighth anniversary of the release of most of the Rivonia Trialists from prison, on October 15.

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Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who passed away in March, expressed a wish before he died to take leaders of opposition parties, the DA’s Mmusi Maimane and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) Julius Malema, on a tour of Robben Island.

In August the leadership of the EFF joined the foundation on a tour. Over the years Kathrada had conducted about 300 trips to the Island with guests from around the world.

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Kathrada Foundation CEO Neeshan Balton said it was important to Kathrada that younger leaders understand the depth of the struggle associated with South Africa’s history, which in some ways is symbolised by Robben Island.

Kathrada would often talk about the robust political debates, framed by respect, despite differing views of political prisoners.

“I think that it is in this spirit … that Kathrada felt the need to ensure people from all political backgrounds understand its story,” said Balton.

Speaking exclusively to Polity, DA spokesperson Portia Adams said that the DA leadership would honour the late Kathrada’s wish and has accepted the foundations’ invitation to go on a tour.

Several former political prisoners, including Kathrada Foundation board member Laloo Chiba, who spent 18 years in the isolation section along with Nelson Mandela and Walter Sisulu, will lead the tour.

They will be accompanied by former ANC politician and Congress of the People leader Mosiuoa Lekota, who was imprisoned in the communal section on the Island.

Kathrada’s widow, former political prisoner and Kathrada Foundation board member Barbara Hogan will be part of the delegation, along with Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatang and board chairperson Professor Njabulo Ndebele.

Balton added that, “Visiting Robben Island with someone like Chiba, who served on the second National High Command of Umkhonto we Sizwe and who spent time in prison with some of the greatest icons of our struggle, is an invaluable experience. It allows one to gain a deep appreciation of the personal and collective sacrifices endured in the pursuit of freedom.”

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