Local museum commemorates Helen Suzman

Attendees had the opportunity to view Helen Suzman’s life depicted in pictures inside the museum.

The Benoni Museum held a public lecture and exhibition opening on November 5 to honour the life and legacy of the late anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman.

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The lecture, which was attended by community members and PR Clr Jordan Lotriet, aimed to highlight her immense contributions to the democracy of this country.

Public and exclusive photos of Suzman were exhibited inside the museum, thanks to Suzman’s daughter, Frances, who provided the photos to the City of Ekurhuleni.

Next to one of Helen Suzman’s portraits, which was displayed inside the Benoni Museum on November 5, are Rambau Fhatuwani (heritage and museum services), Nicole Fritz (Helen Suzman Foundation), Jennifer Munyai (Benoni museum curator) and DA PR councillor Jordan Lotriet.

Nicole Fritz, of the Helen Suzman Foundation, spoke about the life and times of the icon.

“Helen was born in Germiston and both her parents were migrants having escaped Lithuania and the persecution meted out to Jewish people.

“She was studious and smart, did well at school and became the first member of her family to attend university at Witwatersrand.

“At a horse riding school she met her future husband, Dr Moses Suzman, a well-respected lecturer at Wits Medical School.

Nicole Fritz of the Helen Suzman Foundation spoke about the life and times of Suzman.

“When World War II broke out, Helen sought to join the women’s auxiliary forces but was turned away because she had just had a baby,” said Fritz.

Fritz said that shortly after WWII, Suzman was asked by the Institute for Race Relations to study Influx Control Law and that is when she became interested in politics.

“Through these studies, Helen learnt how black families and the economy of South Africa were affected by apartheid.

“Helen became a United Party member of parliament in 1953. It was a year when the notorious Separate Amenities Act was introduced, legislating that black and white people would not be allowed to swim in the same public swimming pools or beaches.

“The United Party supported this law but Helen was not in favour of it and she walked out of parliament,” said Fritz.

All the way from Johannesburg is Cheryl Lang Bridge who attended a public lecture and exhibition of Helen Suzman the Benoni Museum on November 5.

Benoni museum curator Jennifer Munyai said the lecture was supposed to be held in August in line with Women’s Day but it was then shifted to November to commemorate Suzman’s birth month.

The exhibition will run at the Benoni Museum, 60 Elston Avenue, until January. Schools and residents are urged to visit the exhibit from Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 16:00.

For more information, contact the museum on 011 999 6838.

Addressing attendees during the public lecture of Helen Suzman is Nicole Fritz of the Helen Suzman Foundation.


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