'We did not fight for people to get rich'
ONE of the challenges facing South Africa is "ignorance" among both the young and old, Rivonia trialist and ANC stalwart Ahmed Kathrada says.
Speaking to Sowetan at the 49th anniversary of the Rivonia Trial at Lillieslief Farm in Rivonia, near Sandton, Kathrada said a lot more needed to be done to rid SA of this "ignorance" where people did not even have a clue about the country's history.
He recalled how a young woman in Cape Town was shocked to hear that he had spent 26 years on Robben Island, as she assumed it was for murder.
"That's an example of ignorance. It is one of our greatest challenges ... it's not the responsibility of one organisation or non-governmental organisations. Parents need to help and make the young ones understand that freedom comes with responsibility," he said.
Lillieslief Farm is where Kathrada and other ANC leaders - including former president Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu and Andrew Mlangeni - were arrested and sentenced for plotting to overthrow the apartheid government. Their secret hide-out was raided by police on July 11 1963.
It now stands as a National Heritage Site with interactive technology that takes one through that fateful day when eight of the 10 accused were sentenced to life in prison.
Denis Goldberg, the only white member of Umkhonto we Sizwe to be arrested and sentenced in the Rivonia Trial, said the anniversary was "a celebration of the values that comrades stood for" at the time.
Goldberg said South Africans should always remind themselves that freedom did not fall from the trees and that attaining it took enormous sacrifices.
"We now have our freedom. The freedom to build a new South Africa, that's where we want people to go," said Goldberg.
While both Struggle stalwarts were happy at what had been achieved in the country so far, they said a lot more needed to be done, particularly in ensuring that greedy government officials who enrich themselves at the expense of the poor are sent packing. "We didn't fight for people to get rich. I am putting into words what we all talked about then," Goldberg said.