Johannesburg - The funeral of political activist Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim has started at the Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg, with close friend Minister Lindiwe Sisulu as programme director.
Ebrahim's body was first taken to the Houghton Masjid where close family and friends read Islamic prayers as part of his final rites.
Among his close allies, political activist Moe Shaik attended the morning rituals at the masjid where he shared some fond memories of his former commander.
Shaik spoke of how Ebrahim joined the liberation movement as a young activist in 1952, and participated in the Congress of the People campaign, which drew up and adopted the Freedom Charter in 1955.
Video: Timothy Bernard/African News Agency (ANA)
He was active in all the campaigns of the 1950s, and after the banning of the ANC in 1960, Ebrahim joined the armed wing of the ANC, Umkhonto We Sizwe, in 1961, and became part of the Natal Regional High Command.
He was arrested in 1963 and was accused number 1 in the Pietermaritzburg Sabotage trial, otherwise known as the “little Rivonia trial”.
Ebrahim was sentenced to 15 years on Robben Island and served his sentence to the last day. He was released in 1979 and was immediately banned and restricted to his hometown of Durban. In 1980, as per instruction of the ANC, he went into exile.
After spending time at the ANC head office in Lusaka, he underwent military training in ANC camps in Angola. He was then deployed by the ANC leadership as the head of the ANC’s Political Military Committee in Swaziland.
In December 1986, Ebrahim was kidnapped from Swaziland by the South African National Intelligence Service on the orders of the apartheid regime’s top brass and detained at John Vorster Square where he was severely tortured.
He was charged with high treason in a highly publicised trial that lasted until 1989 and sentenced to a further 20 years’ imprisonment on Robben Island.
He was one of the few political prisoners to serve a second sentence on the Island. In 1991, the appeal court ruled, in a landmark judgment, that his abduction from a foreign country was illegal, and that the South African court had no jurisdiction to try him. He was subsequently released from Robben Island in 1991.