Anti-apartheid icon jailed for years with Mandela dies at 87

Ahmed Kathrada reads from a just-published book of his prison correspondence, Aug. 12, 1999, in the cell where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa.


Last Updated Mar 28, 2017 6:18 AM EDT

JOHANNESBURG -- Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for acts of sabotage against South Africa’s previous white minority government, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning at 87.

Kathrada’s foundation announced that he died after being admitted to hospital with blood clotting in his brain earlier in March.

Kathrada was born on August 21, 1929, to Indian immigrant parents in a small town in northwestern South Africa.

After being involved in activities against apartheid, South Africa’s system of racial discrimination, Kathrada was arrested on the outskirts of Johannesburg July, 1963, when the police swooped on Liliesleaf Farm in the suburb or Rivonia, where he and other “banned” persons had been meeting. Kathrada was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Kathrada was “a leader who embraced the simple life, who eschewed consumptiveness, who supported righteous causes at home and abroad, whose loyalty to the ANC extended, also, to criticising it,” Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a statement.

“May he rejoice in many heavenly cups of hot chocolate with his old friends and comrades, Mandela, Sisulu, Mbeki, Motsoaledi and Mahlaba, among them,” Archbishop Tutu said.