President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed his sadness at the passing of Imam Achmad Cassiem, former Robben Island prisoner, Pan Africanist Congress member and founding member of the Qibla Movement.
Imam Cassiem passed away on Friday 17 July 2023, at the age of 78.
President Ramaphosa extends his condolences to the family, friends, comrades and associates internationally of the late political and religious leader who hailed from the Western Cape.
As a teenager, Achmad Cassiem was politically conscientised by the Pan Africanist Congress’s campaign against apartheid pass laws, motivating him to join the armed struggle at the age of 15.
He was a high school learner when he and his teacher, Sadiq Isaacs, were arrested for sabotage, detained and charged under the Sabotage Act.
His was handed a five-year sentence, which caused him to become one of the youngest prisoners on Robben Island.
Upon his release, he was issued with a banning order, which he defied to remain politically active, including his role in the establishment in 1979 of the Qibla Movement to promote and defend Islam in South Africa.
He was detained again for an extended period after mobilising learners during a protracted class boycott in 1980 and was later charged under the Terrorism Act for facilitating military training and infiltration into South Africa for Qibla fighters who had been trained in Libya.
Years after arrest for this action, Achmad Cassiem was sentenced to six years in prison, which was cut short his release in 1991, following the unbanning of liberation organisations.
In later years, he served as National Chairperson of the Islamic Unity Convention and as advisor to the Islam Human Rights Commission.
President Ramaphosa said: “Imam Cassiem lived a life of courage, principle and faith in mobilising communities on the Cape Flats and around the country against apartheid.
“Imprisonment, confinement to his home in Hanover Park and repeated harassment and detention by the apartheid security machine failed to extinguish the flame of resistance and revolution that burned in his being and which he ignited in everyone he inspired as an activist.
“We are joined by supporters of our Struggle in Libya, Iran and other nations who had an impact on Imam Cassiem who in turn, had an impact on them.
“We are grateful for his life and wish him eternal, peaceful rest.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Presidency: Republic of South Africa.