Long-time friend and struggle veteran Sophie Williams de Bruyn on Wednesday remembered anti-apartheid activist, Ahmed Kathrada, as an all-round activist who was respectfully outspoken, resourceful and kind.
Speaking at Kathrada’s funeral in West Park Cemetery, Johannesburg, de Bruyn said that she had known “Uncle Kathy” for more than half a century, and in all that time Kathrada had remained true to who he was.
“I met comrade Kathy many years ago, in the early 50s. I met him at a fundraising party and he could not dance, but loved dancing. We remained friends from that time until now,” de Bruyn said.
“We have shared many precious times together work-wise. Comrade Kathy had special qualities of his organising skills. He had these many skills, and yet the ability to move around and engage with the giants of that time which were Chief Albert Luthuli, JB Marks, and others, and was far younger than them but was easy in their company and they accepted him.”
De Bruyn went on to elaborate how Kathrada had assisted in setting up and mobilising for the Coloured Congress in Johannesburg since it was weak in that part of the country compared to Cape Town.
She also mentioned how Kathrada was “very instrumental” in mobilising the men’s support for the  Women’s March to the Union Buildings in Pretoria which was staged to protest against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act.
De Bruyn also said Kathrada showed his kindness in many ways, one which she recalled was how he assisted by speaking to Helen Joseph to arrange with the cooks at Medical Aid Society to keep a plate of food for them because the Coloured Congress had little money to even buy food.
“Each of us in our own way, felt every time that we get together and engage with him, we find this greatness in him and this comfort to be with him,” de Bruyn said.
“The other quality I remember about Kathy is his uniqueness of speaking, what they so famously call today, truth to power. Even during those days, he would not hesitate to come forward and speak. I remember Kathy to have been outspoken. But when he even criticised or pointed out the wrongs, or certain things that he did not agree with, he would do so in a respectful way.”
Kathrada passed away aged 87 early Tuesday at Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg after a short illness following brain surgery.
President Jacob Zuma declared a “special official funeral” for the late Rivonia Treason Trialist, to be held on Wednesday in accordance with Muslim religious rites. Former President Kgalema Motlanthe delivered the eulogy of the stalwart.