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
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.