PRINCIPLED: Kader Asmal. Picture: Damaris Helwig
PRINCIPLED: Kader Asmal. Picture: Damaris Helwig

Asmal’s last wish: private cremation

By Deon de Lange Time of article published Jun 23, 2011

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ANC stalwart Kader Asmal, who passed away yesterday, will, in line with his last wishes, be cremated in a private family ceremony, his family have announced.

Family spokesman Allan Taylor said Asmal had suffered a serious heart attack and died while he was in a Cape Town hospital for a stomach ailment.

“Asmal was admitted to the Constantiaberg Medi Clinic on June 17 for treatment of a stomach ailment. He was making reasonable progress in a general ward up until late last night (Tuesday), when he suffered a serious heart attack. He was resuscitated and moved to the intensive care unit. Unfortunately he did not regain consciousness and died this afternoon at 4pm.”

Asmal, a former education minister, lifelong defender of universal human rights and prominent champion of the constitution he helped to draft, was 76.

Tributes poured in from across the political spectrum last night for a man widely regarded for his outstanding moral rectitude, his people-centred political ideas and his unflinching independence – a personal characteristic he displayed humbly to the very end.

Asmal, who retired from active politics in 2008, appeared in public for the last time just days ago, when he shook off his physical frailty to address Cosatu’s Young Workers Forum in Cape Town.

In what will go down as his last public speaking engagement, he criticised the corrupt practices of tenderpreneurs, slammed the National Youth Development Agency as a farce for wasting millions of rand on a youth festival “totally unrelated to us”, and warned against the introduction of the controversial Protection of Information Bill.

The ANC said in a statement last night that the party was “deeply saddened by news of the passing of one of the movement’s foremost intellectual giants”.

“The ANC salutes the sacrifices made by comrade Kader, his family and his generation for what they endured for us to enjoy democracy and freedom.

DA leader Helen Zille conveyed her party’s sincere condolences to his widow Louise and his family.

“Prof Asmal will be remembered for many things, but particularly for his scholarship and his contribution to entrenching constitutionalism in South Africa. He left Parliament on principle, refusing to vote for the abolition of the Scorpions,” she noted.

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille

said: “Kader Asmal was a fearless fighter for freedom and human rights.”

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said: “He will remain an example of a courageous life, dedicated and inspired by the highest values a democrat and a man of principle can aspire to.”

The Nelson Mandela Foundation praised Asmal as a “lifelong fighter for freedom and justice”.

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