South African struggle icon and husband of Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter Mewa Ramgobin has died at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness. Ramgobin, the former president of the Natal Indian Congress which fought discrimination against Indians in South Africa, breathed his last at a Cape Town hospital on Monday. A family member said he was admitted to hospital on 8 October and was doing well until two days ago.
Mewa Ramgobin was married to Ela Gandhi, a human rights activist and Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter. A former African National Congress member of Parliament until 2009, he was among the first supporters of the Release Mandela campaign. He was charged for treason in 1985. The couple was involved in the activities of the Phoenix Settlement Trust that was established in 1904 by Gandhi near Durban during his tenure in South Africa.
Just hours before Ramgobin’s death, Ela had departed for Sweden with one of their daughters Asha who is due to receive an honorary degree there. Their son Kidar said family members were meeting on Tuesday to discuss funeral arrangements, as his mother and sister were due to return only on Sunday.
Ramgobin’s role in politics started in his teenage years, and continued when he enrolled at the University of Natal. He was among the first to join the Release Mandela Campaign after the infamous treason trial that sent Nelson Mandela to prison for 27 years before he became South Africa’s first democratically-elected president.