5 things you need to know about Ahmed Kathrada’s funeral

Anti-apartheid stalwart Ahmed Kathrada was laid to rest on Wednesday, 29 March in Johannesburg. Members of the public and media were invited to attend the ceremony.

The programme included a political tribute session which started at 10am organised by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. Former President of South Africa and Board member of the Kathrada Foundation, Kgalema Motlanthe spoke at the event. Anti-apartheid struggle stalwart Sophie Williams-de Bruyn, a former Robben Island prisoner, and a family member also addressed the mourners.

The ceremony was followed by the ritual Muslim funeral prayer and final burial rites, which commenced at 11.30am at the cemetery. Here are five things you need know about the funeral.

1. President Jacob Zuma was not present at the funeral

President Jacob Zuma confirmed that he would not be attending Kathrada’s funeral at the request of the bereaved family.

2. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe reads a letter penned by Kathrada

Motlanthe was the main speaker at the funeral and took the opportunity to read a letter that was penned by Kathrada calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down. This was after the country’s highest court found that Zuma had violated the constitution.

3. Mourners shout “Phantsi Zuma”

A small group of mourners gave Motlanthe a standing ovation after he read the letter and began singing and shouting “Phantsi Zuma”.

4. High profile political leaders were in attendance

Despite the President’s absence, other ministers and high-profile ANC veterans attended the funeral including deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa‚ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Pravin Gordhan.

5. Gwede Mantashe calls Kathrada a “model leader”

Speaking at the funeral at Westpark Cemetery‚ ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said that Kathrada was “incorruptible‚ not only in his politics but also in his personal life”.

Watch the full ceremony below:

Condolence sites

Condolence books where members of the public can pay their respects were placed at several sites outline below. Condolence messages can also be sent to [email protected].

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation

Signet Terrace Office Park

Block B, Suite 2

19 Guinea Fowl Street, Ext 1, Lenasia

The Nelson Mandela Foundation

107 Central Street


Office of the Premier of Gauteng

30 Simmonds Street


Gauteng Provincial Legislature

43 Rissik Street



Caxton Central

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