NATIONAL NEWS - To celebrate the 116th birthday of Helen Joseph, Google on Thursday featured a doodle in honour of the late South African anti-apartheid activist.
Joseph was known for her unwavering resistance of the apartheid regime and her commitment to human rights.
She came to live in South Africa in Durban in 1930 where she met and married dentist Billie Joseph, according to South African History Online.
Joseph passed away on 25 December 1992 in Johannesburg.
Here are 10 facts you should know about Helen Beatrice Joseph:
- Helen was born in Sussex in the UK in 1905.
- She came from a middle-class white family and grew up in a racially prejudiced household.
- Her father, Samuel Fennell, was a government customs and excise officer.
- Joseph worked as an information and welfare officer in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force during the Second World War. Her decision to become a social worker exposed her to some of the realities of South African life.
- Helen was a founding member of the ANC’s white ally, the Congress of Democrats.
- She was also the national secretary of Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw) in the 1950s.
- In 1955 Joseph was one of the leaders who read out the clauses of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People.
- She was one of the main organisers of the women’s march to Pretoria on 9 August 1956.
- Helen was persecuted by police for her activism, which resulted in her arrest on a charge of high treason in December 1956. In 1957 she was banned from publicly opposing the government through her speeches and protests.
- She was the first person to be placed under house arrest in 1962 and she survived several assassination attempts.