Veteran human rights lawyer, George Bizos, has come out strongly in defence of former President Nelson Mandela.

Bizos, who was Madiba’s lawyer and close friend, has rubbished the idea that Mandela was a ‘sell out’ in negotiations with the former government before he became the country’s first democratically elected President.

He was addressing the 89th birthday celebrations of the late Ahmed Kathrada, held at the Johannesburg Muslim School. Bizos has criticised what he calls a small group of people who accused former President Mandela, of being a sell-out.

Some have labelled Mandela a sell-out, saying he made concessions which gave black people political freedom but not financial freedom. However, Bizos says Mandela dedicated his life to liberate South Africa.

Bizos also says he feels the role that Mandela played in achieving a democratic South Africa is being down-played by some within the community. Bizos defends Mandela to the hilt.

Essop Pahad, who served as Minister in the Presidency during President Thabo Mbeki’s administration, called on students at the school to be at the forefront of fighting racism. He has encouraged them to maintain Kathrada’s legacy of non-racism.

“I want you to refuse any form of racism, be it in school or even at home, stand up to your parents if they seek to want to perpetuate racism in the country. This will be more than an honour for the late Ahmed Kathrada.”

The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has declared that it aims to have more than 100 youth clubs throughout the country by 2029, the year which will mark 100 years since the birth of the late Ahmed Kathrada.

The Foundation’s Executive Director, Neeshan Balton, says through this initiative, they hope to assist in eradicating poverty and racism in the country. He says they take pride in the school because it is where Kathrada studied during the 1960’s.

“So by the time we get to 2029, which would be when Ahmed Kathrada’s centenary is, we want to have at least a 100 youth clubs across this country of young people like yourselves who believe that you must still work to make it better for those whose lives have not improved in this country.”

Throughout his life, Kathrada remained strong and inspired both young and old, something that seemingly will live on for a long time and for many generations to come.

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