Pamele dos Santos (nee Beira) was born in Johannesburg on 19 June 1942 to Banny and Golda Beira. She attended Houghton Primary and Johannesburg Girls High. Around 1959 she started frequenting social and music clubs which brought her into contact with people involved in the political struggle.

In 1961, dos Santos participated, together with other equally motivated young people, in numerous demonstrations, rallies, poster hangings, graffiti writing and so on, calling for support for the African National Congress (ANC) and its leaders, their release from prison and a national convention.

In November, 1961 dos Santos and Joe Louw were arrested under the Immorality Act. They were charged and went to trial. Due to a lack of concrete evidence the pair was found guilty under the section pertaining to ‘indecency with the intent to commit immorality’.

From about the middle of 1961 dos Santos worked for Helen Joseph, a veteran in the anti-apartheid struggle. dos Santos helped Joseph with the manuscript of her book ‘If this be treason’ and worked for the Women’s’ League.  At the time Joseph was one of the accused in the infamous Treason Trial.

At the same time dos Santos was found guilty in January 1962 for the Immorality charge and while awaiting her sentence, her family requested that she be made a ward of the court until she turned 21 years old. Duma Nokwe and Helen Joseph suggested that she leave South Africa to study overseas and after a few years return to a free South Africa. At the end of January 1962 dos Santos left South Africa for Tanzania. Joe Louw was sentenced and served six months in jail.

Pamela arrived in Dar es Salaam where she welcomed by ANC members James Hadebe and Frene Ginwala.  She carried a letter from Helen Joseph confirming that she was indeed a member of the ANC Women’s League.

Shortly after her arrival in Tanzania she met Marcelino dos Santos from the then newly established FRELIMO.

In the meantime Joe Louw had served his sentence and arrived in Dar es Salaam.  Shortly afterward he was awarded a scholarship to the United States of America.

By this time Pamela had daughter with Marcelino who was born in October 1963. She continued doing voluntary work at the ANC office. Eventually, with the authorisation of both FRELIMO and the ANC, in October 1968, Pamela married Marcelino dos Santos. JB Marks and Mzwai Piliso were witnesses at the wedding.

After this she worked full time for FRELIMO and after Tanzania gained independence in 1975 she worked for the Government of Mozambique.  Dos Santos is the founder member of the Mozambique Women’s Organisation, Journalists’ Association and other Mozambican organisations.

Over the years she always maintained contact with the ANC, including many leading members such as President OR Tambo, Joe Slovo, Alfred Nzo, Ruth Mompati, Albie Sachs etc. In 1995 Pamela and her daughter moved back to South Africa.


 Sellström, T (2002). Sweden and National Liberation in Southern Africa. Google Books [online] available at:  [accessed on 24 October 2009]

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