Johannesburg - The African National Congress has mourned the death of struggle veteran Ntate Lesiba “Ike” Maphoto at the age of 88 on Saturday.
"Bra Ike, as he was popularly known, belonged to that generation of selfless freedom fighters who were prepared to pay the ultimate price in pursuit of the liberation of their country," the ANC said in a statement.
"He joined the ANC at a time when it was not fashionable to do so. Being a member of the ANC at the time was an invitation for state harassment, police brutality, torture, and even death," it said.
History would record that Maphoto was one of the first recruits of Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK), the ANC armed wing. In 1963, he was sent to the former Soviet Union for political and military training as part of the "Luthuli Detachment".
"As an MK commander, he distinguished himself as a disciplined and fearless freedom fighter. He served 13 years in prison after being captured by enemy forces for his role in the Sipolilo Campaign.
"His heroic and selfless contribution to the struggle for liberation will remain indelible in the minds of all freedom-loving South Africans. The nation owes cde Ike Maphoto and his generation a debt of gratitude that we will never be able to repay in our life time.
“We sent our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, comrades and all members of the mass democratic movement. We are grateful to the Maphoto family for having allowed him to share his life with the people of South African and our movement," the ANC statement said.
African News Agency (ANA)