2 Jan 2009

Anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman dies

6:05 am on 2 January 2009

Helen Suzman, one of South Africa's foremost anti-apartheid campaigners, died on Thursday at the age of 91.

The daughter of Jewish immigrants, she was for 36 years South Africa's most famous white crusader against apartheid, waging an often lonely and fierce parliamentary battle to enfranchise the black majority.

She became one of the few whites to earn respect from black South Africans when she started making regular visits to see jailed black nationalist leader Nelson Mandela, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Ms Suzman and Mr Mandela, who was released from prison in 1990, became close friends after he was elected South Africa's first black president in 1994.

The SAPA news agency quoted Helen Suzman's daughter Frances Jowell as saying her mother died peacefully in her Johannesburg home.