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Kathrada memorial debacle ‘cowardly and spiteful’

Ahmed Kathrada's widow Barbra Hogan has said that the ANC feared her late husband so much it tried to stop the memorial.

FILE: A portrait of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada is carried with the procession as his coffin is taken to the grave at Westpark cemetery. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - While the Presidency insists that it did not cancel the official memorial for the late Ahmed Kathrada, his family and prominent South Africans have described the debacle as “cowardly and spiteful”.

On Friday, government released a statement saying the memorial had been postponed, without giving any explanation.

Just a few hours later, the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and the South African Communist Party (SACP) then announced that they would jointly hold a service for the late “Uncle Kathy”.

Kathrada's widow Barbra Hogan told mourners that the African National Congress (ANC) feared her late husband so much it tried to stop the memorial.

“Instead they’re so fearful of even his voice that they saw fit to cancel his commemoration.”

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan also reacted.

“Let me say very publicly and openly that I think postponing ‘the official memorial was petty and spiteful’.”

WATCH: Pravin Gordhan calls memorial postponement petty and spiteful

In response to the ANC Youth League's condemnation of leaders who spoke at the funeral earlier this week, the SACP's Solly Mapaila said the funerals of struggle heroes are the right places to reflect.

“This is not to abuse funerals and memorial services of our leaders as it’s made to believe… It’s a platform to reflect on their example and lives.”

Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga says it’s wrong to claim that government moved to cancel the memorial.

“It’s publicly known that the president (Jacob Zuma) did not attend the funeral. He was not going to attend the memorial either. Respecting the wishes of the family, President Zuma was not involved in the planning of the memorial service and the cancellation thereof. Any impression created that the president cancelled or ordered the cancelation is not true.”

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)