Tributes pour in for anti-apartheid icon, Paul David - the last of the ’Consulate Six’
Durban - Messages of condolences and tributes flooded social media on Thursday as news of the death of anti-apartheid activist Devadass Paul David.
David died at his home in KwaDukuza. He was 79.
David was a hero, struggle veteran, icon, legend and the last surviving member of the Consulate Six said retired South African judge Thumba Pillay on Facebook.
David is survived by his three daughters Jolene, Jazmin and Lisa and five grandchildren.
Family spokesperson Zandile Qono-Reddy said he died of natural causes at his home.
Independent Newspaper’s Viasen Soobramoney said he was saddened by the passing of David who he regarded as a remarkable figure of the liberation movement.
“So glad we could honour him when we did with the Dravidian Award,”he said.
Former journalist Marlan Padayachee said David was now attending the ANC-NIC-SACOS Congress in the great blue skies. “Hamba Kahle Umkhonto,” he wrote.
Former editor of the Daily News newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal Dennis Pather wrote in his column, Tongue in Cheek, in September 2018, that six men went to the British Consulate offices in Smith (now Anton Lembede) Street.
Pather wrote: “They were visibly taken aback when their visitors introduced themselves as leaders of the mass anti-apartheid movement, the United Democratic Front - Archie Gumede, national president of the UDF, the organisation’s treasurer Mewa Ramgobin, Natal Indian Congress president George Sewpersadh, NIC vice-president MJ Naidoo, trade union stalwart and NIC leader Billy Nair and anti-apartheid lawyer and activist Paul David.”
The six announced they were there to seek the “protection” of the British government to escape arbitrary detention by the apartheid authorities.
They had earlier been detained after leading a national campaign for a boycott of the discredited Tricameral parliamentary system.
Although they managed to win release through the Supreme Court, the security police continued to seek their arrest, forcing them to take refuge in the British consulate.
The British were in a quandary - they couldn’t possibly expel the six into the arms of a regime known to use any weapon in its arsenal to halt the spread of popular resistance to its rule.
Nor did they really want to give the six sanctuaries in the consulate.
So what they decided was to make living conditions as uncomfortable as possible during the three long months the six political leaders were holed up there.
Thursday, September14, marked the 34th anniversary of this historic diplomatic stand-off in 1984 which helped focus worldwide attention on apartheid’s wicked security laws.
Gandhi Development Trust member Satish Dhupelia said: “My memories of him stem from way back to younger days as he was a close of friend of my Uncle Mewa. In the recent past, he was interviewed at the 1860 Heritage Centre. Many young folk might never have heard of him and other past heroes, but the freedom you enjoy today was because of such unsung heroes who have remained untarnished by the cloak of corruption that some others have embraced”.