Windhoek-South African President Jacob Zuma has, on behalf of his country’s people, sent condolences to Namibia following the death of liberation stalwart Herman Andimba Toivo ya Toivo.
A statement on Tuesday by the South African presidency also confirmed that Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo will represent the South African government at Ya Toivo’s funeral at the Heroes Acre this Saturday.
The South African government described the former Robben Island prisoner as an ‘icon of the Namibian liberation struggle’.
Toivo ya Toivo, a former Robben Island prisoner and recipient of the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo, will be laid to rest on Saturday, 24 June 2017, at the Heroes’ Acre in Windhoek.
President Zuma, himself a former Robben Island prisoner, said: “On behalf of the government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I solemnly reiterate our sincere condolences to Namibian President, His Excellency Hage Geingob, the Toivo ya Toivo family, the government and the people of Namibia, as well as the South West African Peoples’ Organisation (Swapo).
May the soul of this giant leader and icon of the struggles of both South Africa and Namibia rest in eternal peace.”
“President Jacob Zuma has expressed his shock and sadness on the passing of Mr Toivo ya Toivo, one of the outstanding liberation icons and heroes of both Namibia and South Africa,” the South African Presidency said in the statement.
“Mr Toivo ya Toivo, the co-founder of Namibian liberation party, Swapo, will be remembered in South Africa for his fearless and selfless leadership he demonstrated during the struggle against the apartheid regime which led to his arrest and other 35 Namibians in September 1966 by members of the South African security forces, and incarcerated on Robben Island.”
Ya Toivo was bestowed with one of South Africa’s most prestigious national orders, the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in March 2009, for his courageous contribution to the fight for independence and freedom in South Africa and Namibia.
Meanwhile, the Johannesburg-based Nelson Mandela Foundation on Tuesday night held a memorial service in honour of Ya Toivo, where former South Africa president Kgalema Motlanthe spoke glowingly about the Namibian icon. “While we are saddened by Andimba Toivo ya Toivo’s passing‚ we celebrate his life and longevity and the lessons learnt‚” Motlanthe said.
He said ya Toivo would be remembered as a freedom fighter and a man who was not obsessed with achieving rank in society. Motlanthe charted the life of Ya Toivo when he was in South Africa in the 1950s‚ when he joined the ANC and said Ya Toivo became “one of us” and‚ for his troubles‚ would be arrested and imprisoned for 16 years on Robben Island.
“He was confined to a single sex cell section; that is where Rivonia trialists were kept‚ in B section.” Motlanthe said Ya Toivo refused to participate in the prison’s grading system‚ which determined the privileges the prisoners could attain.
“Comrade Toivo was determined he will not participate in the system. He chose to continue on the path he set out‚ rebutting the claim that the South African government had legitimacy over him and other Namibians‚” Motlanthe said.
“Our destinies have long being indivisible. The future is a shared one. The peoples of South Africa and Namibia are thus irrevocably connected‚” Motlanthe said.
Ya Toivo was released from prison in 1984 and his immediate response was to get back to the work of Swapo. He passed away at his home in Windhoek‚ Namibia‚ on June 9 at the age of 92 years. – Additional reporting: TimesLive