Foot soldier for SA’s freedom dies

12 January 2018 - 19:08 By Timeslive
Struggle veteran Rica Hodgson with the late Nelson Mandela. File photo.
Struggle veteran Rica Hodgson with the late Nelson Mandela. File photo.
Image: Nelson Mandela Foundation via Twitter

Rica Hodgson‚ who was awarded the National Order of Luthuli for her contribution to the struggle for a non-racial‚ non-sexist‚ just and democratic South Africa‚ died on Thursday.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) said in a statement on Friday that it “lowers its Red Flag in honour of the gallant stalwart of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation”.

Hodgson‚ who was born on 1 July 1920‚ devoted her life to the struggle for democracy from the early 1940s‚ until her retirement in 1996 as secretary to ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu.

She married Jack Hodgson in 1945 and the two shared a life of struggle. In 1943‚ she became a fundraiser for the Springbok Legion‚ an organisation comprising ex-servicemen who opposed the rising threat of fascism in South Africa.

Hodgson joined the SACP in 1946 and‚ in 1953‚ was a founding member of the Congress of Democrats‚ which organised white progressives into the mainstream Congress Alliance headed by the ANC. She was the national secretary of the COD until August 1954‚ when she was served with banning orders‚ under the Suppression of Communism Act.

Hodgson served on the national action council of the 1955 Congress of the People. In 1957‚ she became secretary of the Treason Trial Defence Fund following the arrest of 156 people and‚ in 1961‚ for the Johannesburg branch of the Defence and Aid Fund‚ South Africa. In 1959‚ she was secretary for the production King Kong that sought to promote black jazz musicians and non-racial performances.

Hodgson was detained during the 1960 state of emergency. In the build up to the launch of the joint SACP-ANC military wing uMkhonto weSizwe (MK)‚ The Hodgson’s flat in Hillbrow‚ Johannesburg‚ was used to produce explosives for the 1961 Sabotage Campaign. In 1962‚ in the same flat‚ she and Jack were placed under house arrest.

They left the country illegally in mid-1963 to set up a transit centre outside Lobatsi in then Bechuanaland for MK cadres en-route to training abroad. The British government declared the Hodgsons prohibited immigrants and deported them to London in 1963.

From 1964 to 1981‚ Hodgson worked for the British Defence and Aid Fund and headed the welfare section of the International Defence and Aid Fund‚ covertly channelling funds for the defence of apartheid prisoners and the support of their families. Hodgson also assisted in SACP‚ ANC and MK work‚ and the Hodgson’s London flat was meeting place for Jack and others producing underground material for the struggle at home.

Hodgson joined her son‚ Spencer and his family in the development of the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College‚ established in Tanzania after the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Hodgson returned to South Africa in 1991 after the unbanning of the SACP and the ANC.

“Rica Hodgson embraced the cause of human freedom without regard for the possible consequences to herself and her family. She out-rightly rejected the racial privilege that many chose to enjoy in the face of a crime against humanity‚” said the SACP’s statement on Friday.