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​The City’s highest honour has been given to Ahmed Kathrada for his lifelong dedication to freedom, human rights and universal suffrage.
AHMED Kathrada has been given the Freedom of the City, the highest title offered by the City of Johannesburg, for his contribution to change and democracy.

Ahmed KathradaThe City has bestowed Ahmed Kathrada the Freedom of the CityThe council considered a request made by ANC stalwart Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as chair of the board of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, for the City to recognise the anti-apartheid veteran. Freedom of the City is the highest recognition a city can present to acknowledge a person’s contribution to the welfare of the city and its inhabitants.

Kathrada received his award on 26 April, the eve of Freedom Day. Zanele Silubane from Joburg’s group communications, marketing and tourism department, says that giving Kathrada the title is in line with the City’s policy on giving awards to deserving recipients.

He is the fifth person to become a freeman of Johannesburg, joining Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude and Joe Slovo, all veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle.

At the foundation’s annual lecture in 2010, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe captured Kathrada’s contribution when he said: “Historically, the footprints of Ahmed Kathrada can be found in almost every major struggle in our country, from 1946 to the time of his incarceration in 1963 and beyond.”

Rivonia Trial
About the award, the foundation said: “[It] is very significant because Kathrada has dedicated most of his life in Johannesburg to fighting for freedom, non-racialism and democracy. His involvement in the liberation struggle saw him spending 26 years in prison as one of the youngest of the Rivonia trialists.

“This honour is recognition of the fact that without the sheer commitment, determination, efforts and sacrifice of people such as Mr Kathrada, South Africa would not be enjoying the freedom it now celebrates … Furthermore, Johannesburg would have been a different city – a city struggling to gain legitimacy among the vast majority of its residents as well as internationally.”

It noted: “As a model Joburg citizen who is admired and respected, and whose exemplary leadership has inspired many fellow citizens and others beyond the Joburg city limits to follow in his footsteps, Kathrada continues to work for a just and equitable South African society. He continues to work tirelessly in local communities – even at the ripe age of 82 years – to help realise a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic city and South Africa.”

Silubane explains that in recognising people like Kathrada, the City marries itself firmly to their life’s work of creating a non-racial, democratic and non-sexist society. “It is an objective many sacrificed and died for and it is also an objective around which the City of Johannesburg has developed its visionary Joburg 2040 strategy through which it strives to be a prosperous, healthy, literate, safe and socially inclusive city.”

Kathrada arrived in Joburg from Schweizer-Reneke in 1937. He fought against discrimination and in favour of democracy in every way possible, whether he was campaigning on the streets of Fordsburg, holding ANC meetings in his flat in Kholvad House in the city centre, organising the adoption of the Freedom Charter in Kliptown or planning at Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia.

He continues to be an ambassador for Joburg locally through his interactions with local communities and internationally in his talks on the progress made in turning it and the rest of South Africa into a better place for all.

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