Dr Ahmed Kathrada – A Founding Son of our Democracy

24 November 2014

Anti-apartheid stalwart Dr Ahmed Kathrada, fondly known as Kathy (85) shared his personal experience as a political prisoner for 26 years on Robben Island and Pollsmoor prisons and his memories of the infamous Rivonia Trial. His riveting account of life in prison, the dignity of freedom and the critical importance of education held medical students, scientists and administrators spellbound.

In welcoming Dr Kathrada who was a close friend of the late Nelson Mandela, Director of CAPRISA Professor Salim Abdool Karim paid tribute to one of the “founding sons of our democracy in South Africa, an icon that made the country great. “ Prof Abdool Karim said that the “mark of true greatness lies in Kathy’s humility and his passion to always do more for society.”

CAPRISA and the UKZN College of Health Sciences in collaboration with the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation hosted Dr Kathrada on the 25th anniversary of his release from prison. The occasion held at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine campus on Friday 31 October was particularly significant as Dr Kathrada was instrumental in the naming of the medical school after Nelson Mandela.

Dr Kathrada urged the youth to embrace the many opportunities of education and skills development and to contribute to society. He advised students to “enjoy the freedom we never had before, however, note that with freedom comes responsibility.” Dr Kathrada reminded the youth that people lost their lives for freedom including children, approximately “700 were killed during the Soweto uprising”. “Take advantage of your studies. Your university can give you the expertise you need to grow this country, especially as a health worker.” he said.

Caption: Professor Salim Abdool Karim presents a CAPRISA gold medal to Dr Ahmed Kathrada in ‘recognition of your selfless contribution to South Africa’.