Durban – STRUGGLE icon Swaminathan Karuppa Gounden died yesterday aged 93, after a life in service striving for equal rights for all South Africans.
A joint statement by Selvan Naidoo, director of the 1860 Heritage Centre, and Kiru Naidoo, who serves on the advisory board of the Gandhi-Luthuli Documentation Centre, said Gounden was an “exemplar of a South African patriot”, model citizen, activist and non-racialist throughout his life.
They said he was dedicated, totally committed, humble and selfless in pursuit of a better life for all South Africans.
“He passed on in the early hours of November 30, 2021, a fortnight short of his 94th birthday. He would have frowned at being called a giant but he was certainly one of the sturdiest and tallest trees among the forest of struggle stalwarts.”
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said the party was saddened by Gounden’s death.
ANC provincial spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela, said Gounden was one of the last remaining attendees from KwaZulu-Natal who participated in the historic Kliptown conference, the famous Congress of the People where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955.
“He was part of the 1946 Passive Resistance Campaign, the 1952 Defiance Campaign … and the 1983 launch of the UDF,” he said.
He said because of his dedication and service to the people of South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa bestowed on Gounden the Order of Luthuli.
“We want to extend our sincere condolences to the Gounden family, and while we mourn his departure, we take comfort and will always be indebted to his contribution in our liberation Struggle, and we can attest to his generosity, humility, and respect for human dignity.”
The party said Gounden’s family may take solace in knowing that the Congress movement shared in their pain.
“You are in our prayers as you prepare to lay to rest our dedicated comrade, a stalwart and a leader of our people,” said the ANC.