eThekwini Municipality > City Government > Council > City Mayor > Blog > Posts > Women are capable and strong
August 23
Women are capable and strong

AS THE month of August draws to an end and the curtain is closed on Women’s Month, I urge you to continue to have discussions around challenges facing women and young girls. The issues that have been highlighted this month have not and will not be resolved overnight. We need continued awareness and dialogue around issues of femicide, rape, domestic abuse and inequality among others to ensure that we as a nation actively work towards improving the lives of women.

As the first female mayor in eThekwini I believe it is pertinent to continue to raise awareness around these issues. An example we can all learn from both as women and men is that of a young liberation solider, Phila Ndwandwe who was also known as Zandile or Zandi. She was part of the Natal Machinery of Umkhonto we Sizwe operating from Swaziland. “Brave. Very, very brave,” are the words used to describe Ndwandwe by one of the men who murdered her.

She was a dental therapy student when she was recruited by the ANC in 1985 and was living in exile Swaziland when apartheid police abducted her in 1988. They hoped that she would be an informer.

This young woman had just given birth to her first son and was breastfeeding him when she was kidnapped. She was stripped naked and beaten repeatedly. She made a pair of panties for herself out of a plastic bag. But despite the intense brutality she endured, as one of her killers later told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), she simply refused to talk. Unable to turn her, it was decided that she would be killed. And blindfolded and naked she was hit over the head and then shot while unconscious. She was buried naked and her body covered with lime and a plastic sheet.

Her body was discovered after her killers disclosed what they had done to the TRC and received amnesty. Her parents were left broken by the realisation that they had been living 10 kilometers from where their child was buried. Ndwandwe’s son, at the age of nine, attended the funeral of a mother he had never known. She was an extraordinary human being. Today, an artwork hangs on the walls of the Constitutional Court depicting a beautiful blue dress, made of plastic, floating. It is a bitterly painful tribute to Phila Ndwandwe, who spent her last days naked and battered yet unbroken.

She was 23 years old when she was murdered and remains an inspiration to many young women. She is a true testament that women are capable and strong. Let us all be inspired by her strength.

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