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Anti-Apartheid Fighter Walter Sisulu Dies (Read 506 times)


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Anti-Apartheid Fighter Walter Sisulu Dies
May 6th, 2003 at 5:46pm

Johannesburg - African National Congress veteran Walter Sisulu has died, the ANC announced on Monday.

Sisulu was born in 1912, the year the ANC was founded. He would have turned 91 this month.

Sisulu played a major role in organising resistance to apartheid, for which he was imprisoned following his treason trial in 1964. He was released in 1989.

Sisulu was the first person employed by the ANC and served as its secretary-general.

Convicted of political sabotage and revolution after the ANC decided the white-minority apartheid regime could only be removed by armed struggle, Sisulu and other leaders of the party faced the death penalty but refused to plead for mercy.

Mandela, whose policies of reconciliation soothed a country fraught with racial tensions after the first democratic elections in 1994, at Sisulu's 90th birthday celebration paid homage to Sisulu as a mentor.

"He (Sisulu) knew and taught us that wisdom comes from sharing insights and listening and learning from each other," Mandela said at the time.

"Some of us here became president of the ANC and government but Xhamela always had a position higher than that... He pushed forward Thabo and myself and he always stayed in the background." - News24/Sapa

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Re: Anti-Apartheid Fighter Walter Sisulu Dies
Reply #1 - May 6th, 2003 at 5:58pm
S.African Anti-Apartheid Icon Walter Sisulu Dies

Mon May 5, 2003 09:10 PM ET 
By Toby Reynolds,

Former South African President Nelson Mandela(R) embraces Tata Walter Sisulu during his 90th birthday party in Johannesburg in this May 18, 2002 file photo. Anti-apartheid icon Sisulu, a veteran of the struggle against white rule in South Africa and long-time friend of Mandela, died on May 5, 2003 Mandela's office said. Photo by Juda Ngwenya/Reuters

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africans mourned the passing of anti-apartheid hero Walter Sisulu, who died peacefully on Monday at the age of 90 in the arms of his wife.

Sisulu, a veteran of the struggle against white minority rule in South Africa and long-time friend and mentor to Nelson Mandela, had suffered from Parkinson's disease.

"He died in his house, peacefully...He was going to be 91 on May 18," daughter-in-law Elinor Sisulu told Reuters.

Sisulu, whose life spanned South Africa's tumultuous 20th century, died in the arms of his wife Albertina, the South African Press Association (SAPA) reported.

He was born in 1912, the same year as the creation of the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation movement he helped to lead and which eventually won power in 1994.

Callers to radio shows echoed the grief expressed by former president Mandela, who said he and Sisulu had shared the joy and pain of living.

"May he live forever! His absence has carved a void. A part of me is gone," Mandela said in a statement.

Talk radio station 702 played South Africa's national anthem to mark his passing.

Grieving callers offered their condolences to the family and said Sisulu's death was a deep loss for the country.

"The family should take solace in knowing that the entire nation is behind them. (Sisulu) has made us and for that we will be forever indebted to him," a caller named Solomon told 702.

He recalled how Sisulu's release from prison in 1989, a few months before Mandela, had offered hope for an end to decades of racial segregation.

"Each time I heard him speak, whether it was at a rally or listening to an interview on television...I would say one day, and one day soon we will all be liberated," Solomon said.


An ANC spokesman said the organisation to which Sisulu had devoted so much of his life mourned the death of a father and a hero. "This is a tragic loss," the spokesman said.

President Thabo Mbeki, who succeeded Mandela in 1999, has described Sisulu as "a miracle that God made to taste the bitter fruit of time."

Sisulu, who began his political career by leading a strike at a bakery that got him fired, became one of the leading lights of the ANC.

"Together we shared ideas, forged common commitments," Mandela said.

"We walked side by side through the valley of death, nursing each other's bruises, holding each other up when our steps faltered. Together we savored the taste of freedom.

"In a sense I feel cheated by Walter. If there be another life beyond this physical world I would have loved to be there first so that I could welcome him. Life has determined otherwise," Mandela added.

Sisulu was a founding commander of the ANC's armed wing in the long battle to end the system of racial segregation known as apartheid and to secure political equality for black South Africans.

In 1963, he was arrested and subsequently tried with Mandela and other activists for planning acts of political sabotage and revolution.

He was sentenced with Mandela to life in prison and sent to Robben Island, a sandy islet in cold, shark-infested waters off Cape Town. They were later transferred to Pollsmoor prison in Cape Town before their release.

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