Cape Town - In a moving memorial service at St George’s Cathedral, Struggle stalwarts paid their respects to revolutionary Cuban leader Fidel Castro, with the phrase “Hasta la victoria siempre” (Until victory, always).

Castro was known for fighting for the freedom of oppressed people in his own country as well as for the liberation of South Africans.

The communist leader died on Friday at the age of 90, after dodging more than 600 assassination attempts in the 47 years he governed Cuba.

ANC stalwart Pallo Jordan described Castro as a man who refused to surrender to US efforts to destroy his vision of a liberated country.

In 1990, when Mandela was freed from prison, he thanked Castro for his efforts in helping to weaken apartheid.

“It is ironic in a way that we are celebrating the life of a confirmed atheist in a cathedral. But I think it is also a testimony to the character group within this country that you are able always to bring believers and non-believers together under democracy.

“History has indeed absolved Commandant Fidel Castro.

“When he was tried in 1953, he ended his defence with that statement: History will absolve me'.”

Cape Argus