Condolence Motion
Ms Bertha Gxowa
By Mrs Connie Zikalala MP

National Assembly: 22 February 2011 

Honourable Speaker, on behalf of the IFP, I would like to associate myself with the motion of condolence for the late Ms Bertha Gxowa. The IFP salutes a true champion of human and especially women’s rights.  

Her sense for justice and gender equality moved her to volunteer to be in one of the first groups of Defiance campaigners who went into Krugersdorp without permits. She was subsequently arrested for this and she spent ten days in prison after refusing to pay a fine. 

She was indeed a great example for other women as she took every opportunity to educate herself. For instance, she made use of the opportunity presented to her by the South African Clothing Worker’s Union to study bookkeeping and shorthand at a commercial college. Her excellent contribution to the trade union and political struggle against apartheid earned her the Order of Luthuli in Silver on the 22nd April 2008. 

Her political career gained momentum when she joined the ANC Youth League during the anti-Bantu education campaign. She became a founding member of the Federation of South African Women, which organised the historic women’s march to the Union Buildings against pass laws in 1956. She was responsible for the twenty thousand petitions that were collected against the pass laws for this march. 

Between 1956 and 1958, Bertha was a defendant in the Treason Trial and in 1960 she was banned under the Suppression of Communism Act, a status she remained in for eleven years.  Once her banning order was lifted, she joined the South African National Tuberculosis Association doing community work.  

Ms. Gxowa was also sitting as chairperson on the boards of two women’s skills development projects, Malibongwe and Kwazekasa, both these projects committed to the total emancipation of women.    

The IFP salutes Mrs. Gxowa for display of absolute integrity and grace while she was a member of this House. She was a true pioneer and prime example and inspiration to other women. 

I thank you.