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Women African Heroes Assassinated and Executed in South Africa 1963-1985

Women African Heroes

Voices and Visions of African Liberation

Massacres, forced removals, substandard education and the consequent political crisis that gripped South Africa had awakened a militant attitude among the people, including women African heroes. Between 1963 and 1985 three women African heroes were murdered and one African hero executed in bloody South African freedom struggle.

Women African Heroes Women Assassinated and Executed in South Africa 1963-1985

Women African Heroes Women Assassinated and Executed in South Africa 1963-1985


Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture


Women African heroes who died for the liberation struggle




African Hero Dulcie Evonne September

Dulcie Evonne September, in 1976 joined the African National Congress (ANC) where she worked in the ANC Women's League. She was an anti-apartheid activist, humanitarian and political prisoner. September was arrested and detained without trial at Roeland Street Prison on October 7, 1963. Together with nine others she was charged under the Criminal Procedure Act, with the principal charge one of a conspiracy to commit acts of sabotage, and incite acts of politically motivated violence. After almost six months of court proceedings, judgement was delivered on April 15, 1964. September was sentenced to five years imprisonment, during which time she endured severe physical and psychological abuse. In 1973, as her banning order drew to a close, September applied for a permanent departure permit. She had secured a position at Madeley College of Education in London, England, she then went into exile in London. At the end of 1983 September was appointed ANC Chief Representative in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Coupled with her new appointment, September underwent a short course in military training in the Soviet Union.On the morning of March 29, 1988, September was assassinated outside the ANC's Paris office at 28, Rue des Petites-Ecuries, as she was opening the office after collecting the mail. She was shot five times from behind with a 22-calibre silenced rifle. She was 52 years old.


African Hero Ruth Heloise First

Ruth Heloise First had a brilliant intellect and did not suffer fools, her sharp criticism and her impatience with bluster earned her enemies and she was often feared in political debate. First studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, from 1942 to 1946. She graduated with a BA in Social Studies, receiving firsts in sociology, anthropology, economic history and native administration. First supported and worked for the 1946 mineworkers' strike, the Indian Passive Resistance campaign and protests surrounding the outlawing of communism in 1950. First was a Marxist and in 1956 was arrested and charged in the Treason Trial. The trial lasted four years, after which, all 156 accused were acquitted on March 29, 1961. First was a journalist, academic and political activist killed by a letter bomb August 17, 1982. During the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings, after 1995, it was determined that the bomb that killed First had been put together by Jerry Raven, based on an order from Craig Williamson, a former spy in the South African security police.


African Hero Victoria Nonyamezelo Mxenge

After the murder of her husband, Mxenge continued the law firm her and her husband began. She often intervened to protect youth ill-treated in detention. She was part of the defence team in the 1984 treason trial, against leaders of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and the Natal Indian Congress (NIC) in the Pietermaritzburg Supreme Court.Mxenge started a bursary fund in memory of her husband. She became a member of the Release Nelson Mandela Committee (RMC), the National Organisation of Women (NOW) and the Natal Treasurer of the UDF. In July 1985 she was invited to speak at the funeral of Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sparrow Mkhonto and Sicelo Mhlauli (the Craddock Four) attended by approximately 50,000 mourners to mark the death of activists who had been murdered by the security police. Within days of the funeral speech, on August 1, 1985, four men attacked Mxenge in the driveway of her home in Umlazi, Durban and murdered her in front of her children. She was laid to rest next to her husband at Rayi Cemetery in the presence of 10,000 mourners. Victoria Nonyamezelo Mxenge was a nurse, midwife, lawyer and member of the UDF and NOW.


African Hero Notemba Bozwana

Not much is known about Notemba Bozwana however she is the only woman to be executed. Her cause of death is listed as sabotage in Queenstown in 1963. Komani, formerly known as Queenstown, is a town in the middle of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa with a history of violence and murder against black South Africans. Queenstown was founded in 1853 intended to be a military outpost designed to protect the British subjects from attack during the time of the Frontier wars. The town was laid out around a central hexagon, which was to be the lager to which the citizens would flee in time of trouble. Ezibeleni is the largest township in the Queenstown area. Its original name was Queensdale, named after Queenstown. Ezibeleni was a town established near Queenstown in the 1960s, the majority of the Black population was moved east to the township of Ezibeleni, as part of the removal of Africans to Bantustans, or homelands. Black South Africans were not allowed to live, but only to work, in the white-dominated Queenstown. It is recorded during this era of forced removal of blacks, Notemba Bozwana was executed as ongoing rain of terror in Queenstown South Africa.


Ruth Heloise First was a journalist academic and political activist was killed by a letter bomb August 17 1982
Ruth Heloise First was a journalist academic and political activist was killed by a letter bomb August 17 1982

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