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Florence Matomela (Posthumous)

The Order of Luthuli in

Florence Matomela (Posthumous) Awarded for:
Her exceptional contribution to the struggle against apartheid. Her activism left an indelible mark that continues to spur generations to stand for what is just.
Profile of Florence Matomela

Florence Matomela was born in 1910. She worked as an educator while raising five children. In 1950, angered by new influx control regulations in Port Elizabeth, she led a demonstration that ended in the burning of permits. She was one of the first women volunteers in the 1952 Defiance Campaign, and spent six weeks in prison for civil disobedience. She was later tried with the Cape leaders of the campaign and given a nine month suspended sentence.

In the mid-1950s, Matomela was the Cape provincial organiser of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League and vice-president of the Federation of South African Women. She was among the original 156 defendants in the Rivonia Treason Trial, but charges against her were later withdrawn. She was banned and restricted to Port Elizabeth in 1962 and was subsequently given a five-year sentence for furthering the aims of the banned ANC.

While she was in prison, her health deteriorated badly, as she was sometimes deprived of much-needed medical attention, such as the insulin injections for her diabetes. Soon after her release, Matomela was banned again, and died under banning orders in 1969.