Hettie du Preez has made an outstanding contribution to the struggle against political and economic injustice in South Africa. She was a prominent figure in the trade union movement and in the leadership of a number of organisations. Du Preez became the leader of the Garment Workers Union (GWU) in the 1940s and 1950s. In 1947, she worked on launching a left-wing, non-racial women’s organisation.

Du Preez, Lucy Mvubelo, Sybil Hedley, and Betty Flusk were among the convenors of the first national conference of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in 1954. She also joined the first National Executive Committee of FEDSAW. However, unlike the Food and Canning Workers’ Union (FCWU), a non-racial union with a large female membership, the black branches of the GWU never formally affiliated with FEDSAW. She also played a prominent role in the founding of the African People’s Organisation, which later became the South African Coloured People’s Organisation (SACPO). She is remembered for her patriotism and dedication to the oppressed people of South Africa.

  • Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. 2000. Women Marching Into the 21st Century: Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo. Shereno Printers: South Africa.
  • Gasa, N. 2007. “Women in South African History: They Remove Boulders and Cross Rivers”.  HSRC Press: Cape Town

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