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Women Surviving Apartheid's Prisons
Women Surviving Apartheid's Prisons

Women Surviving Apartheid's Prisons


240 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $22.95 (US $22.95) (CA $30.95)

Publication Date: February 2021

ISBN 9781682570975

Rights: WOR

Just World Books (Feb 2021)


eBook Editions Available

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In 1969, South Africa’s apartheid government arrested 22 anti-apartheid leaders and activists in an attempt to break their movement. Among those arrested were seven women, three of whom (including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela) have since died. This book by South African journalist Shanthini Naidoo uses rich interview material to share the previously untold stories of the four imprisoned women who are still living: Joyce Sikhakhane-Rankin, Rita Ndzanga, Shanthie Naidoo, and Nondwe Mankahla.All the imprisoned women were held in solitary confinement in Pretoria Central Prison for more than a year and subjected to brutal interrogations and torture in an attempt to force them to testify against their comrades. “The freezing loneliness made one wish for death,” Joyce Sikhakhane-Rankin, a journalist, later said of her time in solitary. But the women all refused to testify and as a result the prosecution eventually collapsed. Through her interviews with these four veteran activists, author Shanthini Naidoo explores how women from different oppressed communities in South Africa came together and, defying traditional gender expectations, played a key role in overthrowing apartheid.


"This book does the tangible work of elevating the many untold stories and lives of women in the struggle for democracy in South Africa. As one turns the pages, you are left stirred with visceral emotions because we are these women, and they are us. This work is important in the collective healing of the wounds in our hearts." —Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Member of South Africa's Commission for Gender Equality

"An eloquent salute to the women whose shoulders we walk on. A vital reminder." —Ferial Haffajee, former editor, HuffPost South Africa

"A vital slice of South African history. Naidoo beckons these forgotten women back to center-stage to remind us, achingly, of what true courage and sacrifice mean." —Michele Magwood, former books editor, The Sunday Times (South Africa)

"Women Surviving Apartheid's Prisons is a compelling, heart-breaking, and inspiring work about a largely ignored side to the anti-apartheid/national democratic revolution in South Africa. So many of the stories that we hear or read about in connection with South Africa focus on great men. Taking nothing away from them, Women Surviving Apartheid's Prisons examines the South African revolution from the point of view of women, and in this case, women with whom many of us outside of South Africa's borders are unfamiliar. That makes this a must-read!" —Bill Fletcher, Jr. Executive editor,, past president, TransAfrica Forum

"Examines the South African revolution from the point of view of women, and in this case, women with whom many of us outside of South Africa's borders are unfamiliar. That makes this a must-read!" —Bill Fletcher, Jr., former president, TransAfrica Forum

"Recounting Herstories would be on time, anytime, but it is especially so as we also mark the 100th Anniversary of the Suffragette Movement in the U.S. and update the efforts of Black American women who, like the imprisoned women freedom fighters in apartheid South Africa, were initially not included." —Charlayne Hunter-Gault, rights activist, former anchor for PBS

"These women's... struggles are more relevant today than ever as young women in the U.S. and around the globe are fighting at the forefront of movements for climate justice, reproductive justice and against white supremacy and police violence." —Dr. Barbara Ransby, historian, activist, award-winning author

"I am so grateful to Shanthini Naidoo for bringing to the forefront some of the women who gave up so much for their and their people's freedom. Say their Names! Say Their Names! " —Dr. Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, activist and scholar of civil rights movement

Author Biography

Shanthini Naidoo is a former Sunday Times journalist who works in content marketing. She has also worked for The Times newspaper and O magazine. Naidoo lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two daughters. Donna Bryson is a journalist and author of  It's a Black-White Thing.