President Ramaphosa mourns Nyameka Goniwe, who survived her husband’s killing in apartheid-era South Africa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday he was deeply saddened by the passing of Mrs Nyameka Goniwe, Speaker of the Inxuba Yethemba Municipality and widow of Struggle activist Matthew Goniwe.

Mrs Goniwe, a social worker by profession, passed away in her Eastern Cape hometown of Cradock on Saturday, August 29, 2020, after a brief illness. She was 69.

Thirty-five years ago, after a period of sustained harassment of her family by security police, Mrs Goniwe suffered the loss of her husband, Matthew, at the hands of a police hit squad.

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Security operatives targeted Matthew Goniwe, Fort Calata, Sicelo Mhlauli, and Sparrow Mkhonto, known as the Cradock Four.

Nyameka and Matthew Goniwe had a daughter, Nobuzwe, and a son, Nyaniso.

The President’s sympathies were extended to the Goniwe and Puwani families, friends of the Struggle veterans, residents of Cradock, and the leadership of the Chris Hani District Municipality and Inxuba Yethemba local municipality.

President Ramaphosa said: “The passing of Nyameka Goniwe is a great loss to all of us. Her passing during Women’s Month draws our attention and respect once more to the leadership capability and bravery of women in our society. 

“While Nyameka Goniwe suffered harassment under apartheid and was brutally deprived of her life partner, she was unbowed by the inhumane excesses of apartheid.

“She waged her struggle in her own right and, true to her values and those of Matthew Goniwe, she devoted her contribution to a democratic South Africa to the betterment of the lives of the communities in which she lived.

“She played various leadership roles in local government in the service of her community and exemplified ethical leadership that put people first.

“Cradock’s loss is South Africa’s loss but Nyameka Goniwe will live on in our history and in her enduring legacy of struggle, service and the inspiration and upliftment of communities.”


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