2000• Human Rights Award

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Shanthie Naidoo is one of the many South African women who struggled against racism and apartheid in that country and in exile and is now back home.

Shanthie Naidoo, at the time a young Johannesburg bookshop assistant, was held in solitary confinement for six months as a potential witness, and then a further six months following her refusal to give evidence in the trial of her comrades, who included Winnie Mandela and Joyce Sikakane; 371 days in total. She was finally released in June 1970.

Shanthie had first been "banned" as a political activist in 1963 for five years. The ban was renewed in 1968. A "banning" order meant that the banned person could not "gather" with more than one person, even in the home. She was not supposed to communice at all with her brother Murthie, who was a "listed" person, although he was living in the same house. Only in 1972, after winning a long and arduous battle to obtain an exit permit, was she finally able to leave South Africa for exile in Britain.

In her 19 years of exile Shanthie continued to be active in the African National Congress and worked for the International Defence and Aid Fund for Southern Africa's research department in London and also at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College in Morogo , Tanzania where she married Dominic Tweedie. She returned to Johannesburg in 1991, where she and her husband continue to live and work.

Shanthie's family has a long history of militant resistance in South Africa and is widely known: the family home was known as the "People's House".  Through more than four generations, Naidoos have been active in protests and demonstrations against racial discrimination and then apartheid.  Shanthie, her brothers, and her sister Ramnie, appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
in 1997 and gave testimony about the treatment they received at the hands of the National Party government during the 46 years of apartheid.

Shanthie's grandfather Thambi Naidoo was involved in the passive resistance campaigns led by Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa between 1906 and 1913.  These campaigns were aimed at gaining recognition of the rights of South African Indians to remain in South Africa.  Shanthie's father, Roy, and his brothers were brought up on Gandhi's "Tolstoy Farm" in South Africa. Roy and three of his brothers went with Gandhi whenhe returned to India and later studied under the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore in ashrams  India.  Roy returned to South Africa in the 1920s to play a leading role in the Indian Congress and trade union movement.

Shanthie's mother was jailed during the 1946 Passive Resistance by Indians and again in the 1952 Defiance Campaign led by the Congress Alliance. Her brother Indres served a 10 year sentence on Robben Island (1963 to 1973); he published an updated version of his book Island in Chains earlier this year. Her youngest brother, Prema,  served a year in the 1980s. Both Indres and Prema were severely tortured. Shanthie is currently researching and writing the family history."