Archbishop Makgoba on the death of Helen Suzman

Statement from Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, on the death of Helen Suzman

Friday 2 January 2009

On behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family of Helen Suzman, as I thank God for the gift of her long and remarkable life.

The Psalmist wrote, ‘Who will stand up for me against the wicked? Who will take my part against the evildoers?’ (Ps 94:16). We are all grateful that Helen Suzman dared to take that stand, on behalf of so many, and for so long. A voice for the voiceless, her readiness to speak up, no matter what, made an exceptional contribution to the life of our nation, without which we would not enjoy the potential we have today for freedom and democracy. It is for all of us who honour her name to take forward her legacy by continuing to raise our voices wherever that potential is impeded, or humanity diminished.

May the comfort and strength of the eternal God who is love surround you as you celebrate her life and mourn her passing.

+Thabo Cape Town

For more on Helen Suzman read here.

Helen was noted for her strong public criticism of the governing National Party’s policies of apartheid at a time when this was unusual amongst whites, and found herself even more of an outsider by virtue of being an English-speaking Jewish woman in a parliament dominated by Calvinist Afrikaner men. She was once accused by a minister of asking questions in parliament that embarrassed South Africa, to which she replied: “It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa, it is your answers”.

She was often harassed by the police and her phone was tapped by them. She had a special technique for dealing with eavesdropping, which was to blow a whistle into the mouthpiece of the phone.

Washington Post reports here.

Bishop Tutu is calling for an official state funeral for Suzman here.

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