Ben Turok, an economics professor and former anti-apartheid activist, passed away on Monday morning at the age of 92. The Turok family confirmed his passing.
According to his family, Turok was “always outspoken and dedicated his whole life to fighting for freedom, equality and social justice in South Africa”.
The cause of death has not yet been revealed, and Turok wanted his death to be marked by a private ceremony, “rather than anything official or formal.”
“His wisdom and counsel will be sorely missed”.
The Turok family
Ben Turok: Early life, education and career
Turok was born in Latvia in 1927 and came to South Africa with his family when he was seven years old, and graduated from the University of Cape Town at the age of 23.
He holds B.SC Eng (Land Surveying) from the University of Cape Town, as well as Bachelors Degree in History of Philosophy and English Literature from the University of South Africa and a Masters Degree in Political Science from the University of Dar es Salaam.
From 1972 to 1986, Turok was senior lecturer at the The Open University in the United Kingdom, and was involved in organisations such as the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Turok also delivered lectures at many universities in Africa, Europe and USA, including his tenure as a visiting professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal from 1994.
Furthermore, Turok authored 24 publications, including Strategic Problems of South Africa’s Liberation Struggle in 1974, Africa: What can be done? in 1987, and Nothing but the Truth, Behind the ANC Struggle Politics in 2003.
Ben Turok: Political career
Upon his return to South Africa in 1953, Turok joined the Congress of Democrats (COD) and served as the party’s secretary from 1955.
Turok was also a full-time organiser for the Western Cape Action Council Congress of the People in 1955, and presenter of the Economic Clause of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People.
Turok was arrested the following year, in the Treason Trial along with 155 others. That same year, he was elected as African Representative of the Cape Provincial Council.
In 1960, Turok went underground in Johannesburg during a state of emergency, and was one of the founding members of Umkhonto we Sizwe in 1961.
In addition, Turok also served as editor of the Sechaba, the Official Journal of the ANC in London from 1969 until 1971. Turok returned to South Africa in 1990.
Two years later, he was elected as member of the Provincial Executive Committee for the ANC in Gauteng, and was elected to Provincial Legislature and as a member of Provincial Cabinet in 1994.