Indian-Origin South African Freedom Fighter Dies

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Indian-Origin South African Freedom Fighter Dies

South Africa's veteran freedom fighter of Indian-origin, Indres Naidoo, passed away at a military hospital in Cape Town on January 3.

Johannesburg:  South Africa's veteran freedom fighter of Indian-origin, Indres Naidoo, has passed away and will be accorded an official funeral, with national flags flown half-mast.

South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a Special Provincial Official Funeral for Naidoo, 79, a stalwart of the liberation struggle and recipient of the National Order of Mendi for Bravery, who passed away at a military hospital in Cape Town on January 3.

Zuma has directed that the national flag should be flown at half-mast at all stations in the Gauteng Province on Sunday, the day of his funeral.

"On behalf of government, we wish to convey once more our heartfelt condolences to the family of Comrade Indres Naidoo, his community and the Tripartite Alliance as a whole," he said.

There are three main types of funerals in South Africa's Funeral Policy - State Funeral, Official Funeral and Provincial Official Funeral. Distinguished persons can be granted a special Provincial Official Funeral Category.

The Premier of a province sends a request to the President for consideration if they feel a resident of the province deserves such recognition.

Commenting on the "vacuum" that would be created by Naidoo's death, an African National Congress (ANC) spokesman said he had served as a repository of institutional memory that other members could draw on.

Naidoo hailed from a family steeped in the struggle to end apartheid and bring about a democratic South Africa.

Naidoo's political career began in 1953 after the death of his father Naran Naidoo, when he joined the youth wing of the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC), becoming the joint secretary of the organisation.

By 1958, he had become an executive member of the TIC before joining Umkhonto We Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC, in 1961.

In May 1963, Naidoo was sentenced along with his friend Shirish Nanabhai to 10 years' imprisonment on Robben Island, where Zuma had become one of their fellow prisoners soon afterwards in a large communal cell.

After his release, Naidoo worked for a while but eventually went into exile in Mozambique, where his daughter Djanine is an architect.

A devoted member of the Communist Party as well, Naidoo returned after the organisation was unbanned in 1990 with the release of Nelson Mandela and worked at the Party's offices in Johannesburg. He also served as a member of the first democratically-elected Parliament headed by President Mandela from 1994 to 1999.

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