The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation is deeply saddened at the passing of anti-apartheid struggle stalwart, Eddie Daniels (89).
Daniels, a former Robben Island prisoner, passed away this morning.
“We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Comrade Eddie, whose legacy we are sure will inspire generations to come,” said Neeshan Balton, Executive Director of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. “Comrade Eddie’s passing is not only a loss to his relatives, but to South Africa as a whole. He served the country with distinction and with integrity.”
Just several weeks ago, members of the Foundation’s Board and staff visited Daniels, who was based in the Western Cape. Though ill, Daniels was in high spirits and spent the time recounting some of his Robben Island experiences, together with fellow prisoner Laloo Chiba.
Daniels served 15 years in prison for his political activism. He was a member of the Liberal Party, joining the National Committee for Liberation, which later became the African Resistance Movement. The organisation began conducting acts of sabotage even before Umkhonto we Sizwe.’
Fellow Robben Islander, Ahmed Kathrada, had the following to say about Daniels: “Now Eddie Daniels was the only, what we call ‘non-white’, accused in his trial; the others were white. They were all found guilty and sentenced but within a short time, the parents of the white accused made representations to the then Prime Minister and they were released long before their sentences had expired. Eddie Daniels had served his full 15 years. In fact, in the course of his sentence, an offer was made to him to be released on certain conditions which he could have easily have accepted and the temptation could have been in anybody’s minds to accept it, because he was the only member of the Liberal Party in prison. For a small little undertaking he was told that he would be released, but Eddie was a man of principle and he refused to given any undertakings and therefore served the full 15 years of his sentence.”
Daniels, who served in the isolation section alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Kathrada and Chiba, amongst others, had many stories to share. This included how, in a bid to ‘get news’ about the outside world, which was a hard to come by, he was part of the ‘theft’ of The Sunday Times from a religious leader who was visiting the Island to preach to prisoners.
Daniels, reflecting on his time on the Island, said, “Despite the conditions, the calibre of the people (the political prisoners) was tremendous.” Being the only member of his party in jail, he spoke of how members of the ANC in prison ‘adopted’ him. Despite coming from a different political home, Daniels became close to the ANC, and even made plans at attempting to have Mandela escape from prison.
He last visited the Island earlier this year together with Kathrada, before Kathrada’s passing in March.
Daniels, a whaler, was known for his adventurous spirit. In recent years he fulfilled his dream of walking along the Great Wall of China, as well as taking a dip in the Artic Ocean.
Hamba Kahle Comrade Eddie Daniels!