Zweli Mkhize: ’Hanef Bhamjee and his brother always invited me for a meal’
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Durban - Tributes for the late South African-born British anti-apartheid activist, Mohammed Hanef Bhamjee, have come in from around the country and across the world, as political leaders pay homage to the late stalwart.
Bhamjee died last Saturday, January 8, after a brief illness, according to a close friend and fellow anti-apartheid activist Dr KV (Keller) Moodley.
Bhamjee was born in Marikana, Gauteng, in 1946. Bhamjee’s family later relocated to Pietermartizburg in KZN.
Former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who also comes from the capital city, said he took the late Bhamjee as an elder brother and leader.
“Hanef has been in the forefront of our international Struggle against apartheid, having played a significant role in the anti-apartheid movement since his days as a youth activist. He was involved in the campaigns to isolate apartheid SA in sports and arts and entertainment industries.
“He participated in many demonstrations and protests to highlight the brutality and oppressive nature of the apartheid system. He addressed many public gatherings to mobilise support for the liberation Struggle throughout his stay in the UK.
“He also played a role in supporting the ANC as a member and played a role in increasing the consciousness of South Africans especially from the Indian community that travelled to the UK for various reasons and continued to keep in touch when they returned home during the days of our Struggle.
“Whenever he returned on a visit to his family in our town, Pietermaritzburg, my long time friend and comrade Yusuf, who is Hanef’s younger brother always invited me for a meal in the house and long political discussion and briefings which I always looked forward to,” Mkhize told IOL.
Counsel General and the Minister for the Constitution of Wales, Mick Antoniw, paid tribute to Bhamjee during a Welsh senate sitting yesterday.
People all around Wales and around the UK and South Africa are remembering our great friend and comrade Hanif Bhamjee and sharing some of their photos pic.twitter.com/G3rWHqVblC— Mick Antoniw MS/AS 💙 (@MickAntoniw1) January 9, 2022
“During the past four decades, I can think of no one who has done as much as Hanef for the causes of equality, anti-racism and social justice. Born in South Africa, his opposition to the apartheid regime brought him to the attention of the South African Security Services and in 1965, for his own safety, it was necessary for him to leave.
“I first met Hanef in 1973 during the campaigns against the Vietnam war and the facist coup in Chile. As with Hanef, Wales became a welcoming home for many fleeing political oppression. But above all, Hanef is best known for becoming the voice of the anti-apartheid Struggle in Wales,” Antoniw said.
Friend and fellow activist Babu Baijoo, also from Pietermaritzburg, said he remembered Hanef visiting his flat in Ireland during the college days. Baijoo attended college with Hanef’s younger brother, Yusuf.
“We spent a lot of time together because Yusuf and I shared a flat in Ireland while we were students and obviously Hanef was in and out of Ireland, he was based in Cardiff at the time. He was integral in everything that we did.
“He really cared for the students because he was the eldest among the activists from South Africa living abroad,” Baijoo said.