/ 31 January 2013

Struggle veteran Amina Cachalia has passed away

Amina Cachalia.
Amina Cachalia.

"Hamba kahle, Amina. We will miss you," stated the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory on Thursday.

Cachalia's activism began at an early age when she became a member of the Transvaal Indian Congress, and then the ANC. In 1948 she was one of the founders of the Women's Progressive Union.

In 1954 she was also involved in the founding of the Federation of South African Women and was instrumental in the 1950s for the success of the Defiance Campaign.

Her participation in the Germiston March at that time led to her arrest and sentencing to 14 days in prison.

After her release she was involved in the march by 20 000 women to the Union Buildings to present a petition against pass laws. Around this time her and her husband, Yusuf, became good friends with Nelson Mandela.

Enduring friendship
The friendship continued and the foundation said that in 1986 the former president wrote to her saying: “I love you and Yusuf very much and you are always in my thoughts … There is, therefore, no danger whatsoever of me forgetting you.”

After the Rivonia Trial the couple were banned and placed under house arrest. This ban continued for 15 years. During this time she campaigned to oppose the Tricameral Parliament.

When democratic elections arrived in 1994 she was offered a high office in government, which she declined.

She was then awarded the Order of Luthuli in bronze for "her lifetime contribution to the struggle for gender equality, non-racialism and a free and democratic South Africa".

In recognising this, the presidency said: "Cachalia deserves a special place in our history for her humility and commitment over many decades to the cause of freedom."