Pretoria – The body of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada is making its final journey after leaving the Masjid Mosque in Houghton, heading to the Westpark cemetery where he will be laid to rest.
The 87-year old’s coffin has left the Masjid Mosque with raw emotion being seen on the faces of those who knew Uncle Kathy.
The leaving of the mosque set in motion the start of the official special funeral for Uncle Kathy.
Prior to the body leaving the mosque, Muslim prayers were said before the body left, making its way to the cemetery. The coffin bearing the body of the struggle stalwart was draped in the ANC flag.
The funeral procession leaving the mosque, was proceeded by several motorcycles ahead of the white Muslim council minibus taxi, followed by many other vehicles.
The funeral procession is currently on the N1 highway, making its way to the cemetery where many speakers are expected to pay tribute to the stalwart who was released from prison when he was 60 years old.
When preparing the body for burial, the women clean the bodies of the female deceased while the men take care of the men. While the body which is usually covered in a sheet, is cleaned as prayers are recited.
Burying in a coffin is not permitted in Muslim tradition unless there is a necessity for health or legal reasons.
A memorial service organised by the Presidency, to pay tribute to the struggle hero, will be led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Ministers who have already arrived at Westpark Cemetery includes Ministers Derek Hanekom and Aaron Motsoaledi.
At the burial site, Uncle Kathy will be lifted out of the coffin and buried in a shroud.
The body is lowered into a recess in the trench and turned on its right to face the Qiblah, (Mecca). After this wooden planks are then placed at an angle, before closing the deceased in a cavern.
The slits between the planks are then covered with bamboo, unbaked bricks, mud or grass.
Meanwhile, President Zuma has declared a special official funeral and directed that flags be flown at half-mast until the evening of the memorial service.
Kathrada will be remembered for his discipline and the fearless leadership that he displayed which led to his arrest in 1963 in Rivonia, near Johannesburg.
He became one of the accused in the Rivonia Trial and was sentenced to life imprisonment along other struggle stalwarts, Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Denis Goldberg for charges of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the apartheid government through violent means.
Kathrada served 26 years in prison in which he was held at Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prisons.
Following his release in 1989, he was elected to serve as a member of the democratic parliament, representing the governing party.