Mourners gather for Kathrada funeral

Dignitaries have started to fill a large marquee erected on the grounds of the Westpark Cemetery‚ where the funeral of struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada is to take place.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa‚ former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and former first lady Zanele Mbeki are among the crowds.

ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela took her seat a short while ago next to Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.

Ramaphosa is leading the government delegation to the funeral and memorial service.

An open grave near the entrance of the cemetery grounds has been allocated for Kathrada’s burial.

The 86-year-old died on Tuesday morning after suffering a blood clot to the brain.

President Jacob Zuma will not attend the funeral‚ in accordance with the family’s wishes‚ the presidency said earlier on Wednesday.

Zuma said a cabinet meeting had been postponed to later in the afternoon to accommodate ministers attending the funeral.

Kathrada was a strident critic of Zuma and last year wrote an open letter‚ calling on the president to resign after the Constitutional Court found that Zuma had violated the constitution.

Zuma on Tuesday declared a special official funeral for Kathrada and directed that flags be flown at half-mast until the evening of the memorial service.

“President Jacob Zuma has again expressed deep sadness and extended his heartfelt condolences to former Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan and family on the passing of one of the most respected struggle stalwarts and former Member of Parliament‚” the presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.

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