/ 5 January 2009

Helen Suzman laid to rest

South African anti-apartheid icon Helen Suzman was laid to rest on Sunday in a private ceremony in Johannesburg.

Among the mourners were former South African president FW de Klerk, current President Kgalema Motlanthe, Winnie Mandela and leader of the official opposition, Helen Zille.

”I spoke to her a few weeks before her death and she was very concerned about the current state of politics in our country,” said De Klerk.

”She is was one of South Africa’s great icons,” he added.

Suzman was the sole representative in Parliament of the liberal Progressive Party from 1961 to 1974.

She was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and awarded the United Nations Award for Human Rights in 1978.

She died peacefully on January 1 at her home in Illovo, Johannesburg.

”Suzman was my mentor, she was opposed to the abuse of power by the old apartheid government. She was also opposed to the current abuse of power by the current ANC government,” said Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille.

Prominent rights lawyer George Bizos, who represented former president Nelson Mandela during his treason trial, described Suzman as an icon who relentlessly fought for equal rights for all South Africans.

”She knew that she may not solve all the country’s problems but she never gave up,” said Bizos. – Sapa