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Rita Alice Ndzanga (1933 - )

The Order of Luthuli in

Rita Alice Ndzanga (1933 - ) Awarded for:
Her lifetime contribution to the struggle for workers’ rights and to the realisation of a non-racial, non-sexist, free and democratic South Africa.
Profile of Rita Alice Ndzanga

Rita Alice Ndzanga was born in 1933 in Ventersdorp in the North West (then in the Transvaal) and did her schooling at the Bantu High School in Johannesburg.

As a young woman, Ndzanga became an organiser for the South African Railways and Harbour Union. During the 1950s, she was involved in the formation of the South African Congress of Trade Unions. Because of her union and political activism, Ndzanga was banned and prohibited from attending any political gathering for five years in 1964.

In 1969, Ndzanga was detained under the Terrorism Act and kept in jail for 18 months, after which she was banned and restricted to Senaoane for a further five years.

In October 1976, Ndzanga was detained and charged with recruiting young students for military training. She suffered a major blow when her husband, Lawrence Ndzanga, died in detention in January 1977.

Undeterred, Ndzanga went back to the union movement in 1980 as organiser for the General and Allied Worker’s Union, an organisation that became a driving force in the founding of the Congress of South African Trade Unions in 1985.

After the unbanning of the African National Congress (ANC), Ndzanga was elected as the Chairperson and Treasurer of the Senaoane branch of the ANC Women’s League - today known as the Lawrence Ndzanga branch.

She served in the first, second and third democratic Parliament.

Ndzanga’s resolute conviction in the cause of justice and liberation and her determined struggle in the face of relentless State persecution and harassment, stands out as an example of triumph of the human spirit over the forces of suffering, cruelty and oppression. Her indomitable spirit is a reflection of the innate and most human yearning to be free. She is an embodiment of our highest ideals. She is indeed an inspiration to all South Africans.