Struggle veteran Laloo Chiba passes away

Ahmed Kathrada Foundation Board member and former Robben Island prisoner, Laloo Chiba (87), has passed away just a short while ago. 
Chiba had a mild heart attack a few days ago and was hospitalised. He was discharged this week and passed away at his home in Lenasia.  Chiba was a former Umkhonto we Sizwe platoon commander and was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment on Robben Island in the Little Rivonia Trial. 
He was jailed in B-Section, alongside Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and others.  Chiba considered Kathrada his best friend and political mentor and was devastated after Kathrada passed away in March this year. 
He was also deeply grieved at the recent passing of fellow Robben Island prisoner, Eddie Daniels, whom he had visited just a few weeks ago in the Western Cape. 
Chiba is survived by his wife Luxmi, and his three daughters and grandchildren. 

Laloo Chiba was born on 5 November 1930. A member of the South African Communist Party and the Transvaal Indian Congress, he was profoundly affected by the extreme violence of the Apartheid regime during the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. This incident convinced him of the need for armed struggle and controlled sabotage to pressurise the Apartheid regime into negotiations.

Chiba joined the African National Congress’ (ANC) armed wing Umkonto we Sizwe (MK) in 1961. By 1962 he was promoted to platoon commander. His commitment and leadership was recognised by his comrades and he was asked to become a member of the Second National High Command in 1963.

Chiba was brutally tortured by the Special Branch when he was arrested after his comrades were caught sabotaging a railway line. The Special Branch failed in their efforts to break him and, not being able to extract any information from him, it was unable to lay charges. Chiba was released – deaf in one ear from the torture he endured – only to be re-detained in 1964 and subjected to further remorseless interrogation.

In October 1964, together with other comrades, Chiba was charged with membership of the High Command of MK. He was sentenced and served 18 years’ imprisonment on Robben Island. On his release in 1982, he became active in the United Democratic Front and continued to work in the ANC underground.

Chiba was elected Member of Parliament in the first and second democratic elections in 1994 and 1999.


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