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Monday, June 17, 2024

Apartheid-era struggle nurse Kholeka Tunyiswa remembered

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Durban – The family of apartheid-era struggle nurse, Sister Kholeka Rosemond Tunyiswa, Denosa, government officials and members of the leadership of the ANC and ANC Women’s League will receive her remains at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday.

Tunyiswa’s remains will then travel to Chief Stuurman International Airport in Gqeberha on Wednesday, and a memorial service funeral will be held on April 22 in that city.

Denosa said Tunyiswa passed away in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 5, aged 87.

“She may not be known in South Africa, as she left the country at the age of 25 for Tanzania, where she practised as a nurse together with 19 other nurses recruited from the country, together with her elder sister, Edith,” the union said in a statement.

“She was cremated in a private family ceremony in Dar es Salaam on March 6. She got married and started a family in Tanzania in 1967. Her remains will be returned to South Africa and to her hometown, Gqeberha, where she was recruited by struggle stalwart Govan Mbeki.”

“Members of Denosa, made up of practising nurses and retired nurses, will be part of the delegation that will be welcoming her home, including nurses of her generation (retired nurses) from her township, Motherwell,” Denosa said.

In a statement, the ANC said in 1961 ANC Acting President at the time Oliver Tambo was approached by Tanzania’s President Julius Nyerere for assistance with recruitment of South African nurses to alleviate the shortage after British nurses had returned home after the country gained independence from Britain.

“Notwithstanding its banning, the ANC rolled out a successful recruitment drive that saw exemplary nurses like Tunyiswa taking up the call and subsequently playing a meaningful role in Tanzania as well as in the ANC in exile.

“In addition to capacitating nurses of Tanzania, South Africans like Tunyiswa assisted many ANC activists in transit to Dar es Salaam. They also provided other exiles with basic needs like food, accommodation and transport monies.”

The ANC said Tunyiswa is reported to have worked in Tanga and Iringa in the earlier days of her stay in Tanzania. She then later worked at Mwananyamala, Magomeni and Mnazimoja, which are hospitals in Dar es Salaam. Tunyiswa retired in 1991.


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