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Amina Cachalia dies

Amina Cachalia died on Thursday at the age of 82.

ANC struggle stalwart Amina Cachalia on Thursday died at the age of 82. Picture: Nelson Mandela Centre for Memory

JOHANNESBURG - Amina Cachalia has passed away at Johannesburg's Milpark Hospital on Thursday.

The 82-year-old struggle stalwart and political activist participated in the 1956 Women's March against pass laws.

She was also a member of the Finance Committee of the National Women's League and a trustee of the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.

The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory has sent its condolences to her family.

The centre's Verne Harris described her as a "gracious veteran of our struggle period and a close friend of Madiba's."

ANC Deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte has paid tribute to Cachalia.

She said the political activist was "a great woman and a great leader of women from the 1950s and onwards."

Duarte described Cachalia as an astute political thinker who was "a very gentle and dignified person".

She added, "She had a great passion for ensuring that the country would move forward [sic]."

Although Cachalia grew up in a house of political activists, she was only made aware of race politics when her family moved from Newclare to Fordsburg and was enrolled at an Indian school.

At the Fordsburg school, she met Mervy Thandray, a teacher and South African Communist Party member who took it upon himself to make his learners aware of the oppressive conditions in a South Africa under the apartheid government.

Her father Ebrahim Asvat was a companion of Mahatma Gandhi and taught people about Gandhi and passive resistance.

At a later stage, Cachalia joined the Indian Youth Congress and attended political classes that taught one to overcome injustices by the apartheid government.

She also established the Women's Progressive Union in 1948, which aimed to assist women to become financially independent - despite the odds against them.

It was during these classes, conducted by the Transvaal Indian Congress (TIC), that she came into contact with the leadership of the ANC.

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