Africa

South Africa's Zuma is asked to miss activist's funeral

  • Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

    Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

    Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)  (The Associated Press)

  • Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, with daughter Zenani Dlamini Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

    Former wife of the late former President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, left, with daughter Zenani Dlamini Mandela, listens to speeches during the memorial service for Ahmed Kathrada, at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada, who spent 26 years in jail - many of them alongside Nelson Mandela - for working to end South Africa's previous white minority rule, died in Johannesburg on Tuesday morning. He was 87 years old. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)  (The Associated Press)

President Jacob Zuma says he is not attending the funeral of a South African apartheid-era leader after Ahmed Kathrada's family asked him to stay away.

Kathrada died Tuesday at age 87. He was imprisoned for years along with Nelson Mandela for opposing the former white minority government. Kathrada last year called on Zuma to step down after numerous corruption allegations.

A statement Wednesday from Zuma's office says the president would respect the wishes of Kathrada's family for him to stay away. It also says South Africa "has lost one of its valuable and most respected freedom fighters."

Kathrada's coffin was covered in the flag of the ruling African National Congress party. Mandela's ex-wife Winnie Madikizela Mandela attended the funeral.