Human & Rousseau

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Author Focus

Helen Joseph

Biographical info

Helen Joseph came to South Africa in 1931. After the war, she took a job with the Garment Workers Union and came under the influence of Solly Sachs. Helen was a founder member of the African National Congress' ally, the Congress of Democrats, and national secretary of Federation of South African Women.

The Women's March on 9 August 1956 was one of the most memorable moments of her illustrious political career, as she was one of the main organisers of the protest. Arrested on a charge of high treason in December 1956, and banned in 1957, Helen's life became a long saga of police persecution. She was the first person to be placed under house arrest in 1962, and she survived several assassination attempts, including bullets shot through her bedroom window late at night and a bomb wired to her front gate.

Joseph passed away on 25 December 1992 in Johannesburg. 

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