Lutchmee Marie (popularly known as Aunty Doris) was born in 1923 in Mooi River but grew up in Clairwood. Her mother worked as a domestic worker, washing clothes in the local white community. Her father was a factory worker. All of Lutchmee’s siblings went to school, though the youngest, she was never given that opportunity. She had to assist her mother in supporting the family.

Lutchmee got her political influence from her older sister, Poomony Moodley, an active member of the South African Communist Party and an organiser in the struggle.

Lutchmee herself was not an active member of any political organization, but she had many friends among local community activists in Merebank associated with the United Democratic Front (UDF). She also had close relationships with a few people in exile who had left the country to work with the African National Congress (ANC). Whenever there was a big meeting or a conference, the local activists called on her to cook for the occasion.

The security branch nevertheless harassed Lutchmee, as her son was a trade union and community activist and her house in Merebank a place where student and community activists would gathered in the early 1970s.

In the 1980s she became a member of the Ratepayers’ Association of Merebank, dealing with issues such as pollution caused by factories in the area and the construction of better roads. Their activities involved picketing and lobbying with officials to ensure that their grievances were attended to. Lutchmee also participated in protests and demonstrations organised by the Association on issues affecting the community.

Lutchmee is greatly respected by young community activists in Merebank and is still considered a source of inspiration to young activists in the area. She is currently retired and lives with her daughter in Durban.

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