Durban – Anti-apartheid activist Charm Govender died in the early hours of Monday, his son Yeshelen confirmed to Independent Media.
Govender, born in Durban in 1961, did part of his schooling in the UK and South Africa.
He wrote his matric in London in 1980 and was accepted to study at the then University of Durban-Westville (UDW), now part of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Govender was very active in student politics along with his future spouse, Maggie Govender, who is a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature.
His activism spanned from the Natal Indian Congress to the student movement, community and the ANC.
Friends, colleagues and liberation struggle activists expressed shock at his death, saying it was a blow to the ANC.
“Death has robbed the ANC and the broader democratic movement of a dedicated and selfless cadre. Comrade Govender will be remembered for his deep intellect and revolutionary zeal. The movement has lost a committed and extraordinary organiser,” said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe.
“He was part of the brave and fearless generation that was prepared to lay down their lives in pursuit of freedom and justice.
“He will be remembered as a loyal and disciplined combatant of the people’s army, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK),” Mabe said.
Mo Shaik, former head of foreign intelligence, said he knew Govender as a student in the late 1970s at UDW. Govender was a member of the underground unit he commanded.
“He specialised in intelligence. He was a remarkable comrade, very humble and quiet,” Shaik said. “He was one of the true stalwarts who never sought fame. He never sought glory. He did the hard work in the background,” he said.
“We give our condolences to Maggie and the sons. Hamba kahle comrade,” Shaik added.
Ebrahim Ebrahim, a Struggle veteran, said Govender was an activist in the Natal Indian Congress.
“He was an activist in the community. He did a lot of community work,” Ebrahim said. “He was in our underground movement. He played an important role.”
He said Govender was disciplined and comrades respected him, in particular in Chatsworth, where he did a lot of community work.
“His passing is a loss to us in the movement. He was one of outstanding cadres of the movement who was not after any position or recognition. He was humble, worked hard for the upliftment of his people. All of us will miss him.”