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Abdhulhay Jassat

The Order of Luthuli in

Abdhulhay Jassat Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the struggle for liberation and advancing democracy among all South African citizens, through selfless sacrifice without regard to his own safety and well-being.
Profile of Abdhulhay Jassat

Abdhulhay Jassat was born on 12 June 1934 in Vrededorp, Johannesburg. He was involved in the struggle for freedom from an early age. In 1952, he joined the youth wing of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress, one of the four components of the Congress Alliance.

He was one of the many volunteers who went on the door-to-door campaign collecting demands as a build-up to the Congress of the People, held in June 1955 in Kliptown, where the Freedom Charter was adopted. In 1960, he was recruited into Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and belonged to one of the units in the Indian areas.

He was an active member of his MK unit, which was one of the four units of the platoon under Laloo Chiba. His unit carried out several acts of sabotage, and in 1962 he was promoted to head his unit of MK cadres.

He was arrested on the 17 April 1963, together with Reggie Vandeyar, Indres Naidoo, Sirish Nanabhai and Laloo Chiba, all of whom were severely tortured. Jassat was so badly hurt that he continues to suffer from epileptic fits after 50 years. All five of them were charged with sabotage. Subsequently Jassat and Laloo, both of whom had been arrested at home, were tried separately from the others, but were acquitted because of the lack of evidence. The remaining three cadres were found guilty and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each.

Upon acquittal, Jassat and Laloo were immediately taken into custody and detained under the notorious 90-day Detention Law and incarcerated at the Marshall Square Police Station. Jassat went into exile to Dar-es-Salaam, in Tanzania where he worked full-time for the ANC for six years. He later settled down in London, where he was a full-time functionary of the ANC in its finance department with Alex La Guma, Reginald September and MP Naicker.

After spending 30 years in exile, Jassat returned to South Africa in 1993. His comrades describe him as a principled, disciplined and committed freedom fighter. Jassat is now 79-years-old and belongs to a generation of revolutionaries, who made tremendous sacrifices and endured pain and suffering in pursuit of a just, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.