In memory of Ahmed Kathrada

30 March 2017

South Africa’s anti-apartheid stalwart, Ahmed Kathrada, passed away on 28th March following a short illness. He was 87 years old. His courage, humility, fortitude and principled actions will always be remembered said Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director CAPRISA.

     For over seven decades Ahmed Kathrada dedicated his life to a free and just South Africa. He played a central role in South Africa’s democratic dispensation at great personal sacrifice. Together with Nelson Mandela he was incarcerated and imprisoned for 26 years for his fight against the apartheid system in South Africa. While in prison he pursued his studies and obtained four university degrees.

     Kathrada was an inspiration to the youth of South Africa urging them to contribute to the country and society. Through the Kathrada Foundation he promoted youth leadership, and development, human rights and the ideals enshrined in South Africa’s democratic Constitution. The fight against HIV and AIDS was close to his heart and on 31st October 2014, UKZN and CAPRISA hosted a lecture delivered by Ahmed Kathrada at the Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine where he addressed medical students, scientists and academics.

     In his lecture he urged the youth to embrace the many opportunities of education and skills development and to contribute to society.  Professor Abdool Karim said, "Uncle Kathy, as he was fondly known to us in CAPRISA, was a leader among leaders – a man of great integrity with profound humility and dedication to the poor and downtrodden.  He showed South Africans what compassion and love for fellow countrymen, regardless of race, was about. He saw the good in everyone and he brought out the best in all of us. He always put others first. His departure at this troubled time in our country when so many of our leaders are self-serving and bereft of morality, leaves us poorer as a nation. Kathy was vocal on the need to ensure leaders served the nation, first by being true to their oath to uphold the country’s constitution.  As an exemplary leader himself, he had given his entire life to serving humanity, never once expecting anything in return. His was a life of selflessness and greatness – he will be sadly missed by us all.”