JOHANNESBURG – ANC stalwart and former MP, ambassador and mayor Ruth Mompati has died after a short illness,  ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte told ANA. A former typist at Mandela Tambo attorneys, leader of the anti-pass law march on August 9 1956 and a negotiator at the Groote Schuur talks in 1990, Mompati was 90.




The district municipality in the North West where she was born and later served as mayor is named after her. Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati was born in Tlapeng village, near Vryburg, in the then Western Transvaal on 14 September 14 1925.

She started working as a teacher in the area in 1944 but her teaching career was curtailed in 1952 when she got married and had her employment terminated under apartheid laws. She later relocated to Soweto where she worked as a typist for Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo at their law firm and became an active member of the ANC.



During this period, she became a member of the ANC Women’s League National Executive Committee, became involved in the 1952 Defiance Campaign and helped form the Federation of South African Women (Fedsaw). She was among the organisers of the historic women’s anti-pass law march to the Union Buildings on August 9 1956, alongside Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi and Gertrude Shope. In 1962 she went into exile and received military training in the Soviet Union. She then served the ANC, most notably in the presidents office, and Fedsaw in Europe and on the African continent, including in Tanzania and Zambia.  In the early 80s, she served as an ANC representative in the United Kingdom, and was to later form part of the delegation that opened talks with the South African government at Groote Schuur in 1990.


On 10 August 1992, a day after the anniversary of the historic Women’s March to Pretoria in 1956, she addressed the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid in New York on matters affecting women.



In 1994, she was elected among a first generation of ANC MPs to the National Assembly, where she served until 1996 before being posted to Switzerland as an ambassador for four years. Her life and career came full circle in 2000 when she returned to Naledi municipality in Vryburg to serve mayor until May 2010. She was granted an honorary Master’s degree in education by the North West University an honorary doctorate by Medunsa.