Johannesburg, Apr 24: Indian-origin South African anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada has been conferred with an honorary doctorate by the Durban University of Technology (DUT) for his outstanding contribution towards human rights, social justice and literature. Kathrada already holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Massachusetts, Missouri, Michigan and Kentucky in the US and local universities Durban-Westville, Witwatersrand, and Cape Town.(Also Read: Smriti Irani confers honorary degree to Mary Kom) Also Read - Kathrada memorial service to go ahead after govt postpones it

The veteran leader, who served just one year less in jail as a political prisoner than his long-time friend Nelson Mandela, has also received numerous other local and international awards, including the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award from the President of India in 2005. “The Honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree is awarded to Kathrada in recognition of his outstanding contribution towards South African human rights and social justice,” DUT said in a statement. Also Read - Cong condoles death of Ahmed Kathrada

“DUT honorary doctorate degrees are conferred in recognition of the positive work that prominent South Africans have shown in the country. Kathrada’s Honorary Doctorate will acknowledge his contributions to literature,” the statement added. Kathrada’s interest in literature began at a tender age of 12, when he distributed political leaflets. Although he dropped out of his formal studies to become a full-time political activist, he was also amongst the first Robben Island prisoners to complete a university degree.(Also Read: Padma Awards 2016: Check out images of all honorary recipients felicitated by President) Also Read - Veteran Nelson Mandela aide joins call for Jacob Zuma to resign

Kathrada’s writings include his books, such as Memoirs where he reflects on his time incarcerated on Robben Island and Pollsmoor Prison. From the Island, Kathrada also wrote many letters to his niece, which is now captured in a publication. Interestingly, Kathrada was also chosen by his fellow prisoners to head their “communications” work on the Island. He also contributed significantly to Mandela’s autobiography, which was smuggled out of prison and formed the basis for the world-wide bestseller ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.(Image Credits: Ahmed Kathrada Foundation (Facebook))