Johannesburg will grant Rivonia trialist Ahmed Kathrada the Freedom of the City, its highest honour. Picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse

Johannesburg will grant Rivonia Trialist Ahmed Kathrada the Freedom of the City, its highest honour, the city said on Thursday.

Kathrada will be only the fifth person receive the Freedom of the City.

Other recipients of the honour include Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude, Nelson Mandela, and Joe Slovo.

Cyril Ramaphosa, who is the chairman of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation's board, asked the city council to bestow the honour.

Kathrada moved to Johannesburg from Schweizer-Reneke at the age of eight in 1937, according to a biography released by the city.

He became involved in liberation politics at the age of 12, and was arrested for the first time aged 17.

His political mentors, including Dr Yusuf Dadoo, JN Singh, Ismail “IC” Meer, and Moulvi Cachalia, were all Johannesburg residents.

Kathrada's flat in Market Street was a centre for discussion and debate, as well as a hub of social activity across race and gender lines.

He was arrested in Rivonia in 1963 and spent 26 years in prison.

After his release, Kathrada lived in Lenasia for a time, and now lives in Killarney.

His footprints could be found in almost every major struggle in the country, from 1946 to the time of his incarceration in 1963 and beyond, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said in recognising him in 2010. - Sapa