President Cyril Ramaphosa has described ANC veteran Ben Turok, who passed away Monday aged 92, as a “humble patriot of our nation who made made enormous personal sacrifices for South Africans to attain Freedom.”
“Personally and politically, Professor Turok conducted himself strictly in accordance with the values of our democratic Constitution and made invaluable contributions to debates on questions of national importance.
“He leaves a big void and an equally formidable legacy. He will be greatly missed,” said Ramaphosa.
Professor Turok was the only surviving member of the original underground leadership of the South African Communist Party.
He was arrested in 1962 under the Explosives Act and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in Pretoria before being placed under house arrest.
He fled South Africa without his family and spent two decades in exile as a guest of several African states.
Ramaphosa said Turok made enormous personal sacrifices for South Africans to attain Freedom.
“He was a principled freedom fighter, dedicated to non-racialism and the unity of our nation and of our liberation movement.
“He was a true democrat and servant of our people who stood up to injustice, corruption and the abuse of public office both during our Struggle and into the democratic dispensation.”
South Africans also paid tribute to the ANC veteran.
The Turok family said that the 92-year-old patriarch had asked for his funeral service to be marked by a private ceremony, rather than anything official or formal, in view of the present predicament facing the country.
“He was always outspoken and dedicated his whole life to fighting for freedom, equality and social justice in South Africa.
He was a loyal, lifetime member of the ANC, but retained an independent perspective throughout,” the Turok family said in a statement.
At a social justice forum in Stellenbosch in August, Turok said “South Africa is in a political and economic stalemate underpinned by uncertainty over which direction the country must take.”
“We do not know which direction the country is taking,”