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Dr Frene Ginwala, the first Speaker of democratic parliament, dies aged 90

Ginwala was born on 25 April 1932. She was an anti-apartheid activist, lawyer, academic, political leader, and journalist.

Dr Frene Ginwala died at home at the age of 90. She was the Speaker of a democratic Parliament in South Africa.

by Storm Simpson

Dr Frene Ginwala, who served as the first Speaker of South Africa’s democratic parliament between 1994 and 2004, died at home on Thursday night, 12 January. She was 90 years old.


Ginwala suffered a stroke two weeks before her passing, according to the Presidency. President Cyril Ramaphosa offered his condolences to Ginwala’s family, her nephews Cyrus, Sohrab and Zavareh, and their families on Friday.

Image: Presidency.

Ginwala was born on 25 April 1932. She was an anti-apartheid activist, lawyer, academic, political leader and journalist.

“Today we mourn the passing of a formidable patriot and leader of our nation, and an internationalist to whom justice and democracy around the globe remained an impassioned objective to her last days.

“Among the many roles she adopted in the course of a life she led to the full, we are duty-bound to recall her establishment of our democratic Parliament which exercised the task of undoing decades-old apartheid legislation and fashioning the legislative foundations of the free and democratic South Africa,” said Ramaphosa.

In 2005, Ginwala was bestowed with theOrder of Luthuli in Silver for her contribution to the struggle against gender oppression and her contribution to the struggle for a non-sexist, non-racial, just and democratic South Africa, said the Presidency.

“We have lost another giant among a special generation of leaders to whom we owe our freedom and to whom we owe our commitment to keep building the South Africa to which they devoted their all,” concluded the President.

The details of Ginwala’s official memorial service will be announced in due course. 

Photo-Former South African president Nelson Mandela (R) shares a light moment with speaker of parliament Frene Ginwala at the end of the opening session of the ruling African National Congress’s 51st conference in Stellenbosch, about 50 kms outside of Cape Town 16 December 2002. The conference will pave the political way for the next five years by electing its leadership and defining social and economic policies. AFP PHOTO/ANNA ZIEMINSKI (Photo by ANNA ZIEMINSKI / AFP)

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