Fellow Africans lived under the same apartheid system‚ suffered the same human rights violations and were committed to South Africa’s struggle for liberation.
Former president Kgalema Motlanthe said this at the memorial service of former Robben Island prisoner and Namibian politician Andimba Toivo ya Toivo at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Ya Toivo passed away at his home in Windhoek‚ Namibia‚ on June 9. He was 92.
He was one of the founders of the South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) in 1960.
He was tried in South Africa in 1966 under the Terrorism Act with 36 others and was sentenced to a 20-year prison term in 1968.
He was confined in the same prison section where former president Nelson Mandela was held‚ and they became friends.
Ya Toivo was released in 1984 after serving 16 years of his sentence.
“While we are saddened by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo’s passing‚ we celebrate his life and longevity and the lessons learnt‚” Motlanthe said.
He said ya Toivo would be remembered as a freedom fighter and a man who was not obsessed with achieving rank in society.
Motlanthe charted the life of ya Toivo when he was in South Africa in the 1950s‚ when he joined the ANC.
He said ya Toivo became “one of us” and‚ for his troubles‚ would be arrested and imprisoned for 16 years on Robben Island.
“He was confined to a single sex cell section; that is where Rivonia trialists were kept‚ in B section.”
Motlanthe said ya Toivo refused to participate in the prison’s grading system‚ which determined the privileges the prisoners could attain.
“Comrade Toivo was determined he will not participate in the system. He chose to continue on the path he set out‚ rebutting the claim that the South African government had legitimacy over him and other Namibians‚” Motlanthe said.
Motlanthe said when ya Toivo was released in 1984‚ after serving 16 years in prison‚ his immediate response was to get back to the work of Swapo.
“Our destinies have long being indivisible. The future is a shared one. The peoples of South Africa and Namibia are thus irrevocably connected‚” Motlanthe said.
Ya Toivo will be buried in Windhoek on Saturday.