Essop Pahad, a prominent figure in South Africa’s fight against white minority rule and a symbol of the country’s struggle for liberation, peacefully passed away in his sleep at the age of 84, his family said.
His family revealed that he had been battling cancer prior to his death.
Pahad, like many other activists, was compelled to flee the country due to the oppressive apartheid regime.
In 1962, he faced arrest by the authorities for his involvement in organizing an illegal strike. Consequently, in 1964, he received an official 5-year ban from South Africa.
After the 1994 African National Congress (ANC) election triumph, which ushered in democracy, Essop Pahad assumed the position of minister in the presidency under Thabo Mbeki.
Pahad’s appointment to this significant role solidified his involvement in shaping the country’s trajectory during a crucial period of transition.
Pahad, a South African of Indian descent, served in the role between 1999 and 2008.
In a statement, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a state funeral for Pahad on Thursday afternoon and added South Africa mourns “the passing of a veteran of our struggle.”
“Essop Pahad was a thinker and strategist who brought his understanding of the human condition, injustice and inequality … to bear on our transition to democracy,” Ramaphosa added.