File photo: Phill Magakoe.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday that it was saddened by the death of party veteran Achmat Semaar.

"Comrade Semaar, 72, was distinguished as a cadre of the movement who dedicated his entire life to the struggle of the people," said ANC acting national spokesperson Dakota Legoete.
 
"He joined the struggle at an early age and was active in various structures of the ANC underground, Mass Democratic Movement and the United Democratic Front."

The ANC said Semaar's core activist work was within the Mitchells Plain community in the Western Cape, where he was committed to working to unite South Africans and build a non-racial country. 

"This is a giant who never, at any stage, compromised the principles and ideals of the Mass Democratic Movement."

A father of six children and grandfather to 14, Semaar was an activist for most of his life and never lived far from or stopped caring and fighting for ordinary people, the ANC in the Western Cape said.

His daughter, journalist and broadcaster Karima Brown, said: “My father was an activist all his life. He was always involved with ordinary people. He was a father to many and was incredible. If he did not work for the ANC he would have died."

The ANC nationally added that Semaar was a selfless servant of the people of South Africa, while many in the community would attest to his contribution and selfless service.

"He embodied the values and principles of the ANC."

Legoete added that Semaar left a powerful legacy of relentless activism, spotless integrity, and the highest organisational discipline.

"We will miss his good humour and constant readiness to get down to work. He braved death and sacrificed the comfort of family life in pursuit of the freedom of all South Africans. Cde Semaar served as a Provincial Constituency Office Administrator in Mitchell’s Plain."

The ANC said it remained indebted to his dedication to serve the liberation movement for his entire life.

"Never a populist, no one could challenge his record of revolutionary thought, discipline and, most importantly, consistent action."

ANC Western Cape secretary Faiez Jacobs said: "Achmat Semaar was a giant in Mitchells Plain. He made an impact on so many lives and was a father to hundreds of young people who were persecuted, arrested, tortured or hunted by the apartheid state. In the time known as the Struggle, he was a beacon of light, a voice that comforted and brought help. He made it his business to care for detainees and their families and made sure that they were not forgotten. Truly he was one of our greatest sons."

- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Lindiz van Zilla