Loved the poor and his family

Tribute by Don MacRobert, chairman and founder of Lawyers for Human Rights Pretoria and Co-director of Get Ahead Foundation

Tribute by Don MacRobert, chairman and founder of Lawyers for Human Rights Pretoria and Co-director of Get Ahead Foundation

Nthato Motlana cared for the little people and he loved his family.

The eulogies tell much of the doctor's political strength. We certainly regarded him as the most powerful opponent of the Nationalist government who was not always in jail.

Many of our leaders were out of the country or serving life sentences.

Motlana was often detained and he served time in jail. He was also regarded as one of the most powerful opponents of the government of the day.

Yet, despite his political stature - and he was often interviewed by international television networks such as CNN and the BBC - the doctor cared very much about the little people. He would go out of his way to help all individuals in distress.

In particular, Motlana cared about the unemployed and the jobless. He used to refer to the "poor, the unbanked and the un-bankable" because his concern for these people saw him become the chairman and founder of Get Ahead Foundation.

This foundation had as its objectives the creation of small businesses and jobs in the informal sector of the economy.

These people were seamstresses and carpenters who worked from their homes.

The foundation pioneered a lending scheme for these poor people. It was very successful.

In many interviews, the doctor referred to the successes of Get Ahead Foundation.

Having trekked with him in the Himalayas and having shared a small tent with him for six nights, I was privileged to get to know the doctor even better.

We had lengthy discussions about politics and about South Africa.

In all these discussions, it became apparent that he loved his family. He often spoke in glowing terms of Kgomotso and Karabo, chief executive of Icasa, Nthato, a businessman, Shadi, a psychiatrist, and Wandile, a growing businessman.

The doctor was also particularly proud and fond of all his grandchildren.

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