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Niece pays tribute to Helen Suzman, Mandela's 'lone lioness'

PUBLISHED: 08:31 07 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:46 07 September 2010

By Miguel Cullen HAMPSTEAD actress Janet Suzman this week paid tribute to her aunt, the tireless anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman who died last Thursday. South African Ms Suzman, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, has been labelle

By Miguel Cullen

HAMPSTEAD actress Janet Suzman this week paid tribute to her aunt, the tireless anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman who died last Thursday.

South African Ms Suzman, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work, has been labelled a "lone lioness in a den of apartheid" as she took her role as sole lawmaker opposed to the racist legislation imposed by South Africa's Nationalist Party.

"As I look around the world I see very few people who have the made that difference, who had that sense of outrage against injustice," said niece Ms Suzman, who lives in Keats Grove.

"She was unremitting, she was as clever as hell, she made people who were unfunny cringe with her tongue.

"I loved her and admired her. She was a great South African. She didn't take prisoners, and was above all a rare woman.

"The poor and hungry used to come knocking at her door - people who had had their passports taken away from them, people who were in prison and needed proper representation''.

Ms Suzman was the first South African lawmaker to visit Nelson Mandela while he was in prison in 1967 and she was at his side when he signed the new constitution in 1996 as South Africa's first black president. A year later he awarded her a special gold medal in honour of her contributions.

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