Home South African Former ANC MP Ben Turok dies aged 92

Former ANC MP Ben Turok dies aged 92

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While still serving as a senior MP, Turok defied party instructions to oppose draft classification legislation widely viewed as draconian.

CAPE TOWN, December 9 (ANA) – African National Congress stalwart and former long-serving MP Ben Turok died in the early hours of Monday morning, his family said.

“The Turok family are very sad to announce the passing of Ben Turok, their much-loved husband, father, uncle, grandfather and great grandfather, in the early hours of Monday, 9th December, aged 92,” the family said. 

“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.”

Turok’s family said it was his wish that his death be marked by a private ceremony “rather than anything official or formal, in view of the present predicament facing the country”. 

Turok became a staunch critic of the Zuma administration, and in 2014, after he had retired from Parliament, memorably called on the former president to repay public money spent on improvements to his private home in Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, He also chastised the ruling party for not dealing with the Nkandla scandal well.

While still serving as a senior MP, Turok defied party instructions to oppose draft classification legislation widely viewed as draconian. He was admonished by the ANC for “ill-discipline” and later changed his stance after lawmakers made further changes to the Protection of State Information Bill. 

The ANC caucus in Parliament expressed sadness at his death, saying it came at a time when the wisdom of veterans of the party were needed.

“Comrade Turok, an anti-apartheid activist, economist and former Member of Parliament, was a staunch member of our revolutionary movement who dedicated his life to making South Africa a free, equal and fair country.

“As the ANC, we are deeply saddened by the passing of Uncle Ben, as we fondly called him. Veterans of our glorious movement are leaving us at a critical time when organizational unity and renewal needs leaders of their caliber and political wisdom in rebuilding our movement. His immense political contribution is by far beyond any measure.”

Democratic Alliance interim leader John Steenhuisen said Turok served South Africa with dedication during the struggle to overthrow apartheid and in the democratic era.

“He served his country with humility and principle and always spoke truth to power, whether is was during the oppressive apartheid era or our new democratic dispensation – he was fearless in his pursuit to ensure that South Africa was a better place for all who live in it.”

– African News Agency (ANA)