Laloo Chiba, 87, former Robben Island prisoner and closest friend of Ahmed Kathrada died from a heart attack early on Friday morning. Chiba’s passing came nine months after his friend’s death in March.
Chiba was discharged from hospital a few days before he passed away at his home in Lenasia. In 1961, Chiba joined Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the armed wing of the ANC and was involved in its first sabotage units. After a year Chiba became platoon commander of MK. He was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment on Robben Island in the Little Rivonia Trial, with Dave Kitson, Mac Maharaj, John Matthews and Wilton Mkwayi. On Robben Island, he was incarcerated alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others.
The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation confirmed the death of its board chairperson
“Chiba considered Kathrada his best friend and political mentor and was devastated after Kathrada passed away in March this year. He was also deeply grieved at the recent passing of fellow Robben Island prisoner, Eddie Daniels, whom he had visited just a few weeks ago in the Western Cape,” said the foundation.
In August, Chiba and former president Kgalema Motlanthe, led the EFF on a tour to Robben Island, to honor Kathrada, who had expressed that wish before he died. The Ahmed Kathrada and the Nelson Mandela Foundations jointly organized the excursion. The DA was also later taken on the same tour.
Kathrada visited the island more than 300 times after his release. He encouraged young people to visit the island to understand what political prisoners went through. He was concerned about young people’s political apathy and lack of knowledge of South Africa’s political struggle. Chiba was the ANC MP under former President Nelson Mandela between 1994 and 1999. He was awarded The Order of Luthuli in Silver for his lifetime contribution to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, just and democratic South Africa, in 2004.
Chiba is survived by his wife Luxmi, and three daughters and grandchildren.
COURTESY OF ENCA