The Kathrada Foundation has hailed Struggle stalwart Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim as one of the country’s brave revolutionaries.
On Saturday night the foundation honoured Ebrahim’s contribution to the Struggle for liberation and our democracy at a glittering event held at The Venue in Melrose Arch, billed “The Life and Times of Ebie Ebrahim”, to mark his 80th birthday.
Many of the ANC’s top brass attended the event. Struggle icon Winnie Mandela, ANC treasurer and NEC member Zweli Mkize and former AU chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma were among the guests at the event. Former president Kgalema Motlanthe delivered the opening tribute.
The event also became a reunion of some of the founding members of Umkhonto we Sizwe, former Robben Islanders and ANC leaders who had been in exile during the 1980s.
Helene Passtoors, who worked in special operations under Joe Slovo in the 1980s in Mozambique and Swaziland, flew in to speak at the occasion.
“In the dangerous underground days on the front-line states, Ebie was in charge of the ANC’s political military committee in Swaziland. He was one of the few ANC leaders who went into South Africa in disguise on a secret mission and was later abducted by apartheid intelligence agents in 1986,” said Passtoors.
“Despite the inherent dangers of our underground work, given the infiltration of apartheid agents into Swaziland, Ebie was insistent on being close to his people, and took risks that many other comrades were not prepared to,” she said.
Film producer Anant Singh produced a video on Ebrahim’s life which was screened at the event, in which Nelson Mandela was featured, speaking about Ebrahim’s contribution.
“He emerged as one of the most outstanding pillars of the movement, who was not only committed and loyal, but who had the ability to explain the policy of the organisation,” Mandela said following Ebrahim’s release from a second sentence on Robben Island in 1991.
“Ebie is a relatively unsung hero and I know of his immense commitment and contribution to our liberation through many people around him, especially Ahmed Kathrada,” Anant Singh said following the production of the video tribute.
Ebrahim was accused number one in the Pietermaritzburg sabotage trial in 1964, and sentenced to 15 years on Robben Island for his role as an MK commander blowing up targets of the apartheid state.
Both Ronnie Kasrils and Sunny Singh who were key operatives with Ebrahim during the sabotage campaign in Natal in the early 1960s were also present at the dinner.
“Ebie was selected to carry out one of the most sensational attacks in Durban where three electricity pylons were blown up which plunged the whole city of Durban into darkness,” Singh recalled of one of their signature operations. “Following Ebrahim’s abduction from Swaziland in 1986, he was subjected to systematic and calculated cold torture, where the security police constantly used heavy sounds to disorientate him,” Singh said.
“During Ebie’s detention in John Vorster Square in 1987 where he was being held in solitary confinement and tortured, we passed each other accidentally in the exercise courtyard,” deputy minister of co-operative governance Obed Bapela recalled.
“I recognised him as the ANC leader who had been abducted from Swaziland and it was the first time since his abduction six weeks prior that anyone in the ANC knew what the apartheid state had done with him.”