Veteran Indian-origin South African freedom fighter Laloo Chiba died today at his home in the predominantly-Indian suburb of Lenasia here. The 87-year-old Chiba, a political prisoner on the Robben Island alongside former South African President Nelson Mandela, was hospitalised after a mild heart attack a few days ago, but was discharged later on. “We would like to inform you that Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Board member and former Robben Island prisoner, Laloo Chiba (87), has just passed away a short while ago,” Ahmed Kathrada Foundation said in a statement. The Gujarati-origin stalwart was a former platoon commander in the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) and was sentenced to 18 years of imprisonment on the Robben Island.
He regarded Kathrada as his best friend and political mentor and was left inconsolable after the revered Indian- origin anti-apartheid activist’s death in March this year. After Kathrada’s death, Chiba spent his last months continuing his work at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, which is committed to fighting non-racialism and oppression worldwide. Chiba was a founder member of the Foundation.
Among his last projects was joining hundreds of South Africans nationwide in a fast to express solidarity with the people of Palestine. Chiba’s death has brought to an end an era in South Africa’s democracy for the people of Lenasia, where he, Kathrada and another late stalwart Shirish Nanabhai were well-known as the veteran trio. He is survived by his wife Luxmi, and his three daughters and grandchildren. Funeral details have not been finalised, but insiders expected Chiba to be accorded an official funeral, as had been the case with Kathrada.