AMINA CACHALIA: 1930 - 2013
Amina Cachalia: A champion activist of women’s rights died on 31 January 2013.
The ninth of eleven children born to politically active parents Ebrahim and Fatima Asvat in Vereeniging in 1930, Amina Cachalia's activism and championing of women's rights was a birthright.
The 82-year-old passed away in a Johannesburg hospital on 31 January 2013.
Her father was a companion of Mahatma Gandhi and the chairperson of the Transvaal British Indian Association, later called the Transvaal Indian Congress, of which Cachalia joined at a young age.
In the early 1950s, she worked tirelessly to make the defiance campaign, a multi-racial political mobilisation against apartheid laws, a success.
In August 1956, a heavily pregnant Cachalia took part in the Women's March to the Union Buildings, together with 20,000 other women.
In the aftermath of the Rivonia Trial, Cachalia fell victim to the mass banning of political activists and both she and her husband, Yusuf, were banned and placed under house arrest.
The couple remained close confidantes of former president Nelson Mandela throughout his more than 20-year long prison stay and even visited him at Pollsmoor Prison.
Cachalia served, until recently, in organisations focusing on the upliftment of women and children, including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and Operation Hunger.
The struggle stalwart was also awarded the Order of Luthuli in bronze, by the government, for her lifetime contribution to the struggle.
In addition to that, she received an honourary doctorate from the University of the Witwatersrand.
The Presidency on its website says: "As a measure of the high regard with which Amina Cachalia is held, she was offered high office by the first democratic government, which she modestly declined."
It says Cachalia deserved a special place in the country's history for her humility and commitment over many decades to the cause of freedom.