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Helen Suzman anti-apartheid heroine dies aged 91

Last Updated: 1/1/2009 3:10:01 PM

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Helen Suzman the celebrated anti-apartheid campaigner has passed away aged 91. She died at home in Johannesburg on Thursday. ....

Helen Suzman passes away
Helen Suzman passes away

The celebrated anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman has died at home in Johannesburg on Thursday aged 91. For years during the darkest days of Apartheid in South Africa Suzman was an outspoken critic of the racist regime. Between 1961 to 1974 she was the only member of the South African parliament of the time who spoke out against the government policy of Apartheid and the crimes against humanity it engendered.

Suzman the daughter of Latvian Jewish immigrants was first elected to the South African in 1953 and as the Apartheid regime consolidated its rule and white South Africans sold their conscience for the short term financial benefits Apartheid brought Suzman found herself the sole opposition in parliament against the ruling National Party.

Suzman left parliament in 1989 as the seeds of the new South Africa had been irrevocably put in place. Suzman was a long term confidante of Nelson Mandela who in his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom said of her visits to Robben Island where he was imprisoned “It was an odd and wonderful sight to see this courageous woman peering into our cells and strolling around our courtyard. She was the first and only woman ever to grace our cells.”

Over the years Suzman has received several national and international awards recognising her selfless duty to South Africa including being twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Suzman is survived by two daughters.


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