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Cape Town honours Kathrada with Freedom of the City

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The City of Cape Town has awarded struggle icon Ahmed Kathrada the Freedom of the City.

In a statement issued on behalf of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille, it said the Freedom of the City was the highest honour that a council could bestow on “any person of distinction”.

Kathrada now joins other recipients such as former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, as well as Professor Richard van der Ross.

The statement went on to detail Kathrada’s contribution to South Africa.

It said Kathrada’s struggle against apartheid started in 1941 and he was arrested for the first time at the age of 17 for his involvement in the Passive Resistance Campaign.

During the Rivonia Trial, he was among the eight accused who were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour.

He spent 18 years of his 26-year sentence on Robben Island. He was released from Pollsmoor Prison in 1989. In 1994, he was elected to Parliament and appointed as Mandela’s Parliamentary Counsellor.

A date for an official handover is yet to be finalised.

Said De Lille: “On August 21, Mr Kathrada will be 86 years old. This gesture is just in time for his birthday and a token of appreciation for the heroic service he has rendered to our country.”

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