Ahmed Mohamed “Kathy” Kathrada completed four degrees through Unisa and received an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy from Unisa in 2013.


ANC stalwart Kathrada was among those imprisoned on Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor Prison after the Rivonia Trial of 1963–1964. This followed an already robust history of political activity through the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and the South African Indian Congress that had seen Kathrada arrested for his role in the 1952 ‘Campaign of Defiance against Unjust Laws’ and charged in the 1956 Treason Trial. Born into an Indian immigrant family, he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa at age 12 and later the South African Communist Party. He abandoned his studies at Wits University to pursue full-time political activism but resumed them vigorously on Robben Island, obtaining his BA and Bachelor of Bibliography degrees, and two BA Honours degrees — all through Unisa. Kathrada was a lifelong friend of Nelson Mandela’s and served in South Africa’s first democratic Parliament.