Johannesburg — Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, a former anti-apartheid fighter who, like the greats of the struggle he encountered, spent part of his life in Robben Island penitentiary in South Africa, died Monday at the age of 84.
He died of a long illness at his home in Johannesburg, the ruling African National Congress said in a statement.
The party hailed "a longtime ANC member, a patriot who has served his country in many capacities with humility, dedication and distinction."
Born on July 1, 1937, the activist of Indian origin had a journey similar to that of the big names in the fight against the white racist regime in South Africa.
Switched from nonviolent protest to armed struggle under apartheid, he was arrested in 1963 for sabotage and sent to Robben Island for 15 years. He was released in 1979.
At the end of the 1980s, when he joined the ANC in exile and multiplied the missions, he was kidnapped by apartheid agents in neighboring Swaziland (now Eswatini), tortured, then sentenced for "treason" and sent back to Robben Island.
In prison, he studied with Nelson Mandela and shared a cell with Jacob Zuma, who like Mandela was a future president of South Africa.
Ebrahim was finally free in 1991. The first multiparty elections were held in South Africa three years later.
He joined the government in 2009 as deputy foreign minister, a post he held for six years.
"I am saddened by the death of a comrade and distinguished advisor who has dedicated his life to the liberation of our country and the resolution of conflicts in the world," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement, welcoming a "sweet revolutionary."