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Amina Cachalia laid to rest

Political figures and friends of Amina Cachalia say she was a true stalwart and comrade.

Amina Cachalia and Nelson Mandela. Picture: Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory

JOHANNESBURG - Struggle stalwart Amina Cachalia was hailed as a selfless, steadfast and committed woman.

The 82-year-old woman passed away at a Johannesburg hospital on Thursday.

She was laid to rest at the Westpark Cemetery on Thursday night.

President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as well former President Nelson Mandela's wife Graça Machel were among the scores of mourners who bid farewell to Cachalia.

Deputy African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was also in attendance said Cachalia was an old comrade who continued to offer advice.

"She was a loyal member of the ANC and a true stalwart."

Other dignitaries who came to pay their last respects included Planning Minister Trevor Manual, Former Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as well as Arts and Culture Minister Paul Paul Mashatile.

Cachalia, a confidante of Mandela, has been described as a gracious woman who contributed greatly towards South Africa becoming an equal and free nation.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said she hoped South Africans would embody Cachalia's spirit in their everyday lives.

"Amina was an inspiration to us all. May her life continue to inspire both women and men alike."

TRIBUTES POUR IN

Prominent South Africans, activists, intellectuals and government officials have paid tribute to the late struggle icon.

Head of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Verne Harris, said Cachalia shared a special bond with both Madiba and the centre.

"She supported our work and we've done a number of projects with her."

ANC deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte also paid tribute to the fallen struggle icon.

Duarte said the long-time activist was "a great leader of women from the 1950s and onwards."

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

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

In the early 1950s, Cachalia worked tirelessly to make the Defiance Campaign a success, and has always been at the frontline of women's rights protests.

Anti-apartheid activist Ahmed Kathrada said Cachalia, along with fellow activist Helen Joseph, visited women across the country who had been banished from urban areas by the apartheid government.

He said the pair also ensured that the women were fed and clothed.

The University of the Witwatersrand hailed Cachalia as a "freedom fighter".

"We acknowledge the passing of Amina with great sadness for in her, we have lost not only a freedom fighter but more importantly, a human rights activist and a protector of the vulnerable," it said in a statement.

ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said Cachalia would be remembered for her "selflessness, steadfastness and commitment."

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille said she hoped South Africans would embody Cachalia's spirit in their everyday lives.

"Amina was an inspiration to us all. May her life continue to inspire both women and men alike."

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