|2012 08 30 Press Release: LRC honours struggle activist Vesta Smith|
LRC honours struggle activist Vesta Smith
For Immediate Release: Thursday 30 August 2012
In commemorating women's month, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) will honour one of the liberation movement's heroes, Vesta Smith, who contributed her life to the realisation of democracy in South Africa. The event will be held in Cape Town this evening.
The Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, Trevor Manuel, will deliver a keynote speech titled "Social Activism and the Law". Western Cape High Court Judge and former LRC Regional Director for Cape Town, Chantel Fortuin, will lead the ceremony.
"We honour Vesta here tonight because she stood for the right to equality in South Africa. We honour her for speaking out and standing up against the injustices of the legal system that deliberately sought to divide and disenfranchise the majority of our people.
"We honour her vigour, her commitment in the face of brutality, her steadfastness in the face of repression, and her contribution to her community in the democratic South Africa," said Janet Love, the National Director of the LRC.
Vesta Smith, who is fondly known to her friends and comrades as "Ma Vee", was born in Sophiatown, Johannesburg in 1922. She started her political activism at an early age when she moved to Noordgesig with her family in 1940. She attended the Congress of the People in 1955 and the Women's March in Agust the following year, two events that would have a profound impact on her political life.
As an ANC volunteer under the repressive Apartheid laws, Ma Vee was banned from attending gatherings, speaking publicly and from carrying a passport and this led to her numerous arrests from 1972 until the unbanning of the ANC in 1990. In between those years, Ma Vee served on the executive committee of the Black People's Convention and was a founding member of the United Democratic Front. She was co-chair of the Federation of Transvaal Women, and was a member of the Federation of South African Women.
Dedicating her life to her community, Ma Vee worked with Dr Beyers Naude and Horst Kleinschmidt at the Christian Institute before its banning. She later joined the LRC in Johannesburg where she remained until her retirement in 1995.
To this day, the LRC's work in women's rights continues to play a critical role in its pursuit for social justice which many brave women like Ma Vee sacrificed their lives for. The main objective of this work is to ensure basic equality for all women in South Africa through the alleviation of poverty and inequality.
The LRC's women's rights work protects women against gender-based violence, discrimination and harassment while promoting equality in the work place, access to land and housing and customary and laws.
NOTE: For more information please contact Khumbulani Mpofu, LRC's Communications and Marketing Officer on 083 695 2025.
The LRC is an independent, non-profit, public interest law clinic, which uses law as an instrument of justice to provide legal services for the vulnerable.