Bhisho to honour apartheid activist Lillian Diedericks

ANC veteran Lillian Diedericks, 94, and her daughter Eugene Plaatjies with a photograph of Diedericks and her older sister Magdalene Swartbooi, who was murdered in Schauderville in 1971. The killers were never found but the family believes it was the apartheid police, that it was a case of mistaken identity and that the target was actually Lillian because the women looked very alike and Magdalene was not involved in politics at all.
ANC veteran Lillian Diedericks, 94, and her daughter Eugene Plaatjies with a photograph of Diedericks and her older sister Magdalene Swartbooi, who was murdered in Schauderville in 1971. The killers were never found but the family believes it was the apartheid police, that it was a case of mistaken identity and that the target was actually Lillian because the women looked very alike and Magdalene was not involved in politics at all.
Image: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

The Eastern Cape government will be renaming State House in Bhisho, the official office of the premier, after veteran activist Lillian Diedericks.

The decision is contained in premier Oscar Mabuyane’s scheduled Woman’s Month speech on August 29 which The Herald got a glimpse of on Wednesday.

Mabuyane said Diedericks, 94, had played a leading role among South African woman activists in the 1950s.

uMama uLillian is a daughter of our province, a women’s rights activist, trade unionist, shop steward, founding member of the Federation of South African Women, a member of the South African Communist Party

“uMama uLillian is a daughter of our province, a women’s rights activist, trade unionist, shop steward, founding member of the Federation of South African Women, a member of the South African Communist Party, one of the frontline leaders of the 1956 women’s march and the recipient of the government’s National Order of Luthuli for advancing democracy in our country.

“We mention her name today and in this month that is dedicated to honour women in our country because as the sixth administration we are in the process of naming the Bhisho State House building, the official office of the premier, after her.

“We are engraving her name in that building to inspire us to be servant leaders at all times.”

The premier’s team visited Diedericks in her humble Gelvandale home on Wednesday to convey the news.

Speaking to The Herald afterwards, she said she was still processing what they had said.

It has not sunk in yet. I’m not a glory-glory person who wants to be put on a pedestal but if they feel they want to do this then they can go ahead

“It has not sunk in yet. I’m not a glory-glory person who wants to be put on a pedestal but if they feel they want to do this then they can go ahead.”

Famously outspoken, Diedericks has until now received relatively little recognition for her leadership in the anti-apartheid struggle and in particular the role she played as one of the co-ordinators of the Women’s March on August 9 1956.

On that day 20,000 woman marched to the Nationalist Party’s seat of government in the Union Buildings in Pretoria to protest against the introduction of the pass laws in 1952, raising global awareness of one of the government’s most most hurtful policies.

A veteran member of the ANC, she said on Wednesday she said she was angered by the continuing reports of corruption emanating from the ruling party.

“It makes me want to commit murder when I hear about it. It’s people grabbing for what they never lost.

My message to them is we worked hard to become the government and to make this land beautiful, so don’t mess it up

“My message to them is we worked hard to become the government and to make this land beautiful, so don’t mess it up.

“Be true to yourself and if that self is false — then change.”

Growing up poor in Schauderville, she achieved just Std 3 (Grade 5) before having to leave school but had grown up in a no-nonsense household where people told you what you needed to hear, she said.

“I enjoyed no handouts but today my house and furniture are paid for.”

The culture of handouts was another thing that the government had to expunge from both their approach and from South African society, she said.

“Don’t believe manna is going to fall from the sky. Cultivate your own manna.”

Her message to the people of Gelvandale was even simpler, she said.

“Don’t have more children than you can afford.

“The Sassa [South African Social Security Agency] child grant system should be scrapped.

“To all parents who bring a child into this world — let them work.”

HeraldLIVE


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