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ANC statement on the death of Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy

26 August 2009

The African National Congress (ANC) mourns the death of veteran United States (US) senator, Edward "Teddy" Kennedy, who died after more than a year-long battle with brain cancer.

A Democrat from Massachusetts, Edward Moore Kennedy was first elected to the US Senate in 1962 to finish the term of his brother, John F. Kennedy. JFK had become president in 1961. "Teddy" was re-elected in 1964 and then again for seven additional terms. He was re-elected to the senate recently in 2006.

Kennedy was among leaders who championed the opposition against the apartheid regime in South Africa. He visited South Africa in 1985, and drew attention to apartheid through the American television crews that followed him. He visited slums and resettlement areas. His trip was denounced by the then South African government.

He is remembered for having staged an "illegal protest" outside Pollsmoor Prison, where struggle icon Nelson Mandela was held. Said Kennedy: "Behind these walls are men that are deeply committed to the cause of freedom in this land." Years later, Mandela said he knew Kennedy had been at the gate of the prison and that "gave us a lot of strength and hope, and the feeling that we had millions behind us both in our struggle against apartheid but in our special situation in prison".

On his return to the US, Kennedy led an effort to impose economic sanctions on South Africa. In 1986, Congress overrode a veto by President Ronald Reagan and enacted a ban on all new investment by Americans in South African businesses and on the importation of such products as steel, coal, ammunition, and food from South Africa. "The time for procrastination and delay is over," Kennedy said. "Now is the time to keep the faith with Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, and all those who believe in a free South Africa."

Senator Edward Moore Kennedy, was the youngest Kennedy brother who was left to head the family`s political dynasty after his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

The ANC will forever treasure the contribution made by "Teddy" in the struggle for liberation and the building of our democracy. The ANC extends condolences to his family, friends and relatives.

May his soul rest in peace.

Issued by:
Jessie Duarte
ANC National Spokesperson

Enquiries:
Ishmael Mnisi 0823335550
Brian Sokutu 071 671 6899