Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma had conveyed his condolences to the family, friends and comrades of the late Amina Cachalia, a struggle stalwart and long-time friend of former President Nelson Mandela, who passed on Thursday. At the time of her death, Cachalia was 82-years-old.
“Our country has lost one of the most tireless and consumate fighters for liberation that we have known. And we would like to express our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, comrades and all who had the privilege of knowing her. May her soul rest in peace,” said Zuma.
The President’s office described her as a seasoned campaigner for women’s rights and one of the liberation movement’s foremost stalwarts. Cachalia came from a fiercely political family and dedicated her life full-on to the emancipation of all oppressed people in South Africa.
“Her political activism saw her in leading roles as a member of the Transvaal Indian Youth Congress and Transvaal Indian Congress, treasurer of FEDSAW, patron of the Federation of Transvaal Women, among others,” said the Presidency in a statement.
She had several stints in prison such as when she was arrested during the 1952 Defiance Campaign and also participated in the 1956 Women’s March against pass laws, becoming a banned person at various stages.
Cachalia was a Trustee of the Mandela Children’s Fund, member of the Finance Committee of the National Women’s League as well as a recipient of the Presidential National Order of Luthuli in recognition of her life spent fighting for freedom and democracy. The Nelson Mandela Centre has also conveyed its condolences to the family. It said Cachalia had travelled a long road with Madiba and his family. She and her husband Yusuf were friends with Madiba in the years before he went to prison.
After he was imprisoned in 1962, they kept in touch through letters. Only after he was transferred to Pollsmoor Prison was he finally allowed to be visited by Cachalia and her husband.
They resumed their friendship after his release in 1990. On 1 June 1986 when he was in Pollsmoor Prison he wrote her a letter saying: “I love you and Yusuf very much and you are always in my thoughts … There is, therefore, no danger whatsoever of me forgetting you.