I hope my legacy has become a woman who believes justice, equality, and the right change is my legacy.
On Monday, August 24, 1981, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi entered the South African South African satellite office of Zimbabwe, the African National Conference (ANC ), greeted his companions.
After a while, she accompanied the gun in the wives and was arrested to be arrested. This is her birthday 21 of her. Two white officials and the Zimbabwe police tower in South African hostile women in a South African hostile woman throwing a few hours of career. This is a hard encounter, Jerdin remembers. Although the officer did not hurt her, she left her emotion from oral attack. She did not appear in court, Gardin stopped.
He will spend 17 days in the laminated danger of solitary imprisonment, because he has no promise. The story of her arrest and arrest of her is somber. But for Geraldin, 61-year-old people have already provided the first line of anti-racist activities to the success of politics and companies, this is a catalyst.
The political arrest of it will only make it stronger confrontation of the powerful influence, it believes that the South African apartheid system, and put it on a clue, left it from the helmet of the new democratic government to understand 1994 in 1994. Ethnic isolation is unfair One of the six children, Jerdin is the mother of the main father of the school and the mother of a community activist.
She grows up in a family, the powerful debate is the agenda. My parents are very active in the community, so we grew up in a political active family, she said from the family office of Cape Town. My parents always encourage us to know what happened around us, from a very young man.
When we witnessed it, we always develop correct things and the challenges are unfair, she continues she, her grandmother is a warm woman and a firm union, she is one of her’s first influences.
Because my family values and radicalism, I have never had time in my life, I do not know the cruel and injustice of the apartheid system, she said. comrade was Shadrack Ganda, who later testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 1997 about the devastating moment he and Geraldine discovered Gqabi.
As I was about to open the door on the side of the driveway, I could see the car and I saw that the glass, the window had been shattered As I was approaching the car, the door was riddled with bullets and I looked into the car, Joe Gqabi was slouched in the seat.
He had fallen onto the left passenger seat, reads an extract from Gandas testimony in the TRC report.Geraldine recalls how they sped to the home of then-minister of state security, and now president of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was a close associate of Gqabi, to inform him that something happened and we needed the police and ambulance at the safehouse.
Mnangagwa drove back to Ashdown Park with her, armed with an AK47.When we arrived, he said to me: Stay in the car, then he got out and cocked his AK before walking down the driveway. He first looked towards the back of the house before walking to the car.I then got out of the car and he said to me: Comrade Joe is dead.
I must say, I flipped for a minute, adds Geraldine, the dramatic events of that night 41 years ago still so vivid in her mind.It was warGqabi would later receive a state funeral courtesy of the Zimbabwean government, attended by senior members of the ANC, including Oliver Tambo, the then-president of the ANC, and several ANC leaders and members such as Thabo Mbeki.We learned that comrade Joe had been under surveillance by members of the hit squad for about three weeks before he was killed, Geraldine says.The apartheid state was infamous for having a hit squad that would carry out brutal extrajudicial killings across borders.According to newspapers that picked up the story in 1981, the death of Gqabi was a case study characteristic of the far-reaching brutality of the South African apartheid state, but to Geraldine, the ANC, and the military resistance wing of the liberation movement at the time, it was war.
For Geraldine, the war became even more personal just weeks after Gqabis death.I was arrested on the 24th of August by the Zimbabwean police, MacCallum and Varkevisser, at the ANC offices in the presence of two high-ranking ANC members at the time, she recounts, They said for the murder of Joe Gqabi.Ganda was also arrested.
However, following hours of aggressive interrogation, he was released by Zimbabwean police without explanation.Geraldine, meanwhile, would endure days of hostile interrogation both at the Harare Central Police Station and Chikurubi Prison.
When they were questioning me, they had placed one of the weapons they said was used in the assassination on the chair next to me, she recalls. They asked various questions that had already been asked at the time about the day we discovered comrade Joe.
By then, I had been through the events of that day multiple times with the ANC leadership.And then I eventually realised the police were more interested in the ANC than me being a suspect through their line of questioning.
They ask: What motivates one to join, what is the ideology of the movement? The ANC in Zimbabwe, led by Gqabi, had built good relations with the Zimbabwean government and ruling party, the ZANU-PF.
However, the detectives in charge of the case were former members of the British South Africa Police, which was the Rhodesian police force that was closely allied with the apartheid regime. Geraldine was held in solitary without charge at the maximum-security prison for some time and then moved to the central police cells, where she was eventually released still without charge after 17 days.
A better, more just society When Geraldine was released from prison in mid-September 1981, she went straight back to work and activism, continuing to help build ANC structures in Zimbabwe while undergoing military training with her comrades and Zimbabwean allies.
According to the South African History Archive Trust, the ANC encouraged women to take up arms and join the MK. However, the final report of the TRC claimed that during the height of anti-apartheid resistance and up until the early 1990s, women were in a minority accounting for approximately 20 percent of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres. Geraldine recalls how the women she met held their own.
I encountered a few women in the camp, but we all knew what we had to do. We knew what was at stake, we were there to train and contribute to the struggle against apartheid. I never thought it was harder for me because I am a woman, but I always had to navigate my way carefully through the gender inequality that wasnt just an ANC camp problem, it was a world problem.
Towards the end of 1981, Geraldine went to further her training in Angola. It was in the capital, Luanda, that she met her husband, Jabu Moleketi a fellow MK cadre. She cant help but smile as she recalls their first meeting. I was in the safe house, he walked inside and said: Wheres the food comrade, Im hungry? she laughs. I said: Theres the kitchen comrade, help yourself. He understood me, we were comrades first then partners, so there wasnt any chance of gender roles, she adds.
The pair would go on to marry over a year later and eventually have three children. Geraldine became Fraser-Moleketi. In 1982, Geraldine underwent specialised training in the Soviet Union, which was an ally of the ANC. Geraldine stoically recounts training at a winter camp outside Moscow. One day, they were dropped off in the middle of the woods, given water, a compass and a map, and told to march their way back to camp. After wandering through the woods all night, they collected me and the only other female comrade, and gave us a ride back so we didnt have to complete the full march overnight, she adds, that was the only time I allowed myself some slack, to not do what the male comrades were doing, no matter how tough it got.
The ANC and the Soviet Union had strengthened ties after the Sharpeville Massacre when apartheid police fired on a group of peaceful protesters in a Black township on March 21, 1960, killing 69 people with the Soviet Union making an estimated $30,000 donation to the SACP, to assist the victims families.
They also provided training for those in the armed struggle, refuge for those in exile, and financial support for victims of the apartheid regime in South Africa. By 1990, the apartheid state had begun to crumble. When FW de Klerk took over as prime minister, he made critical changes that saw the unbanning of Black political formations, including the ANC, the SACP, the Pan African Congress and others.
These changes also meant that anti-apartheid activists like Geraldine could finally return home. We had to come back and rebuild not only the country, but our connections with families, friends, and communities. It wasnt easy, she says. But I was overjoyed to be home. There was potential to build a better, more just society. We could work towards alleviating poverty, racial inequalities and make basic needs accessible to everyone. I had hope.
Geraldine was instrumental in relaunching the SACP, as she diligently presided over its administration. She also worked with prominent anti-apartheid leaders, eventually serving in South Africas historic first democratic cabinet. Well into the 2000s, Geraldine left politics, but she was still pushing back against the status quo in the development and finance sectors.
After joining the African Development Bank, she spearheaded a $300m development fund to support female-led businesses on the continent, something she calls one of my proudest achievements. Today, she is accomplished as the chairman of Tiger Brands, the largest food company on the African continent and the Chancellor of Nelson Mandela University.
Although her name, her strife and passion for justice is entrenched in the fabric of South African history, Geraldine is caught off guard when asked about her legacy. Thats a tough one, she smiles. I want my legacy to be that of a woman who believed in justice, equality and doing what is right.
I wanted to contribute to a better, fairer, transformed society where everyone has equal opportunities. Change is my legacy.