Former anti-apartheid activist Richard Van Der Ross laid to rest

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A funeral service has been held for former anti-apartheid activist and teacher, Professor Richard van der Ross. He

passed away at the age of 96 earlier this week.

Van der Ross was the first black editor of the Cape Herald and the first black rector of the University of the Western Cape.

He has been described as a teacher, friend, writer, and tireless human rights activist.

Professor Richard van der Ross has been praised as an academic who favoured independent thought.

He was a pivotal figure in higher education in South Africa, and instrumental in the transition of the University of the Western Cape from a college to an autonomous and inclusive university.

University of the Western Cape Rector, Professor Tyrone Pretorius, has hailed Van der Ross’ achievements during his tenure at the university.

“His legacy is when he labelled UWC as the University of the working class. Recognising that education is the way out of poverty, so that is his biggest legacy and obviously we all feel very sad today, but at the same time we deeply appreciate the trajectory he has out the University on.”

Professor Van der Ross was one of the leaders of the coloured ‘convention’ movement and became the first president of the Labour Party of South Africa.

In 1975, he became rector of the University of the Western Cape. Former students, friends and academics have lauded his contribution to society.

Fellow academic, Doctor Franklin Sonn, says he was a true humanitarian. “He was proud of who he was. He owned his whiteness but he owned his blackness too and therein rests his conviction of being a coloured man not imposed on him by government, but something which he owned because of his recognition and respect of his legacy and heritage.”

Before his death, Van der Ross released a book titled – ” In Our Skins : A Political History of Coloured People’