South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid

Interview Segment

Ahmed Kathrada interviewed by Peter Alegi and Bob Vassen
March 24, 2006 East Lansing, Michigan , United States.


"When we finished this 90-day interrogation period ... the lawyers told us, 'Chaps, prepare for the worst. There is enough evidence to hang you'." [2:27]

Ahmed Kathrada explained how the Rivonia Trial was conducted as a political trial, with no apology made for the acts they had committed. There was enormous relief when they received a sentence of life in prison.

Born in 1929, Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada dropped out of high school to do political work, participating in many campaigns of the Congress Alliance. He was active in the Transvaal Indian (Youth) Congress and the South African Communist Party and was detained and put under house arrest. He went underground in 1963 and was one of the accused at the Rivonia Trial, although he was not a member of the ANC military wing. He spent 18 years on Robben Island, where he earned two BA degrees and helped Nelson Mandela edit his autobiography. In 1994, he was elected to Parliament and was a senior advisor to President Mandela.

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AODL African Studies Center MSU Matrix NEH