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Fri Oct 24 10:35:09 SAST 2014

Struggle veteran Phyllis Naidoo dies

Sapa | 14 February, 2013 15:59
Former teacher and ANC activist Phyllis Naidoo. File photo.
Image by: Jackie Clausen / © Sunday Times

Struggle veteran and author Phyllis Naidoo has died, the ANC said on Thursday.

Spokesman Keith Khoza said the 85-year-old activist died on Thursday. Further information was not immediately available.   The Daily News reported on Thursday that Naidoo died of heart failure at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital.

She was cremated, according to her wishes, at a private crematorium.   The African National Congress said it was saddened by her death.   “The ANC dips its flag in honour of Comrade Phyllis Naidoo.” 

Naidoo was born in Estcourt, KwaZulu-Natal on January 5, 1928.   Later in her life she joined the Natal Indian Congress and became involved with the SA Communist Party.

She and her husband helped fellow activists to get out of the country.   Naidoo was banned by the apartheid government in 1966.  

The next year her husband was imprisoned on Robben Island and she was placed under house arrest.   She studied law during that time and qualified as a lawyer in 1973.   Activists who had been released from Robben Island went to Naidoo to find employment.

At one stage, she employed five ex-Robben Island detainees, including President Jacob Zuma, as messengers at her law firm.   In 1977, Naidoo escaped to Lesotho where she was involved in welfare work and assisted the ANC and SACP. 

She moved to Zimbabwe in 1983, and only returned to South Africa in 1990.   Naidoo wrote seven books, including the Footsteps series and Le rona re batho: an account of the 1982 Maseru Massacre.

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