Ruth Mompati, who died in Cape Town on 12 May, served as the ANC’s representative in Britain in the early 1980s. She earned wide respect at a time when apartheid was not such a big issue as it later became. She travelled the length and breadth of Britain winning support for the anti-apartheid cause among students, councillors and local communities.
Ruth was born in Vryburg, North West Province, in 1925 and as a young woman moved to Johannesburg, where she worked in Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo’s law practice. She helped found the Federation of South African Women in 1954 and was one of the leaders of the 1956 women’s march on Pretoria. She was forced to leave South Africa in 1962, received military training and was elected to the ANC National Executive. Her many important posts during the long years of exile included Head of the ANC Women’s Section and of its Board of Religious Affairs.
Ruth was elected as a member of the South African parliament in the 1994 freedom election and from 1996 to 2000 served as South Africa’s ambassador to Switzerland.
She is remembered with love and admiration by her many friends in Britain and all over the world.