Rest in peace Helen Suzman

While we know that we cannot live forever, the deaths of remarkable people always shock us. This is how I felt when Helen Suzman passed away recently.

While we know that we cannot live forever, the deaths of remarkable people always shock us. This is how I felt when Helen Suzman passed away recently.

I was a domestic worker in the Johannesburg suburb of Parktown in the 50s. My late husband Peter was a driver for Helen's dad, Mr Coronsky. He and my employer, the late Dr Norman Werksman, were neighbours. So being neighbours, nothing Helen did or said escaped our attention.

Helen was a person who went all out to expose the bad living conditions under which blacks lived under National Party rule. Frederick van Zyl Slabbert and Colin Eglin will surely remember her for her stamina that saw the Progressive Party win six seats in 1974. Despite the bad names Helen was called as a lone fighter for years in Parliament, she ignored the vulgar words.

When Hendrik Verwoerd was assassinated in Parliament by Dimitri Tsafendas, poor Helen was blamed.

She could have had a comfortable life had she not bothered to stand up for the oppressed, but her stand proves that she was virtuous. She fought a good fight and those discriminated against found an energetic ally in her.

Rest in peace Helen, and may the gates of heaven open for you.

Emily Ngwenya, Gauteng

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