Anti-apartheid pioneer Suzman dies

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The Independent Online

Helen Suzman, one of South Africa's foremost anti-apartheid campaigners, has died at the age of 91.

The former politician and daughter of Jewish East European immigrants was publicly critical of apartheid at a time when it was rare among whites. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice and won praise from human rights organisations. Her daughter Frances Jowell said she died peacefully in her Johannesburg home.

Mrs Suzman was, for 36 years, South Africa's most famous white crusader against apartheid, waging an often lonely parliamentary battle. She was one of the few whites to earn any respect from black South Africans and regularly visited the jailed black nationalist leader, Nelson Mandela, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Remembering Mrs Suzman's first visit to him, while he was in B-section of Robben Island prison, Mr Mandela once said: "It was an odd and wonderful sight to see this courageous woman peering into our cells and strolling around our courtyard. She was the first and only woman ever to grace our cells."

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said South Africa had lost a "great patriot and a fearless fighter against apartheid".