First Name: Stephanie
Last Name: Kemp
Date of Birth: June 1941
Location of Birth: Karoo, South Africa.
Date of Death: 10 March 2023
Stephanie Kemp was born in the Karoo in 1941 and grew up with her two sisters in Malmesbury in the Swartland. The town was dominated by the Dutch Reformed Church, and therefore her upbringing was dominated by Afrikaans traditions. Her father who was deeply committed to Afrikaner nationalism arsing from the family’s experiences in the South African War, worked as a principal of the Swartland Laerskool. Her cousins were members of the Afrikaner Broederbond. Her mother came from a Methodist missionary tradition.
After completing her matric in Port Elizabeth, Kemp went on to study Physiotherapy at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1960. Political turmoil in the country, particularly the Sharpeville Massacre, compelled Kemp to search for a political identity. She joined the Defence and Aid Fund in the Cape where she worked with Dora Alexander, Ray Edwards, Albie Sachs’ mother, and Sarah Carneson among others. She was subsequently recruited into the South African Communist Party (SACP). Through her interaction with SACP members and its ideology she became radicalised. Most importantly, through the experience of Cape Town she became resistant to Afrikaans and subsequently refused to speak it anymore.
THE AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS MOURNS THE PASSING OF COMRADE STEPHANIE KEMP
The African National Congress (ANC) mourns the passing of Comrade Stephanie Kemp, a veteran and fearless pioneer during the liberation struggle whose sacrifice and commitment to the people of South Africa knew no boundaries.
As an Afrikaner, during years of apartheid South Africa Comrade Stephanie jettisoned privilege and comfort for the humanity and freedoms of all people. It was her quest for justice, equality, a non-racial, and non-sexist South Africa that will keep her name inscribed in the collective memory of South Africa’s valiant leaders who trampled darkness and despair with goodness and light.
SACP statement of condolences to the family of liberation stalwart, Stephanie Kemp
Sunday, 11 March 2023: The South African Communist Party (SACP) dips its red flag in memory of the South African liberation stalwart, Stephanie Kemp (25 June 1941 – 10 March 2023).
The SACP conveys its heartfelt condolences to her family, particularly her sons, Alan and Michael Sachs, and her grandchildren.
The SACP also sends its condolences to the entire South African liberation movement, which she served diligently, and the entire working-class, with whose struggles she shared the deepest passion.
Stephanie Kemp joined the South African struggle against colonial and apartheid subjugation. She was particularly attracted to Marxist-Leninist literature, including that developed and enriched by the SACP, based on the South African conditions and struggle for liberation and social emancipation.
Stephanie Kemp, 1941–2023 – A fierce patriot and warrior of the South African Struggle
A startling beauty whom the media likened to Grace Kelly, Stephanie Kemp, who has died aged 81, was a fierce patriot who never forsook her Afrikaner heritage, in all its complexity.
DAILY MAVERICK: 17 March 2023 By Maureen Isaacson
Stephanie Kemp’s death at the age of 81 has brought outpourings of grief. A warrior of the Struggle, tried and detained under the Sabotage Act in 1964 with four others, she was the first white woman to be assaulted in prison.
A startling beauty whom the media likened to Grace Kelly, Kemp was a fierce patriot who never forsook her Afrikaner heritage, in all its complexity. In 2017 she published Through an Unforgettable Storm: The Forging of a Loyal Cadre, one of the best and most detailed South African memoirs published in recent years.
The Struggle against Apartheid South Africa is vividly reflected in this personal memoir of a white South African.
Stephanie Kemp traces her origins in South Africa back to the 17th Century. She grew up in a conservative white Afrikaner family and small town community. Despite this environment, she became aware of the discrimination against black South Africans even before she started school. She entered the University of Cape Town in 1960, a year of great upheaval in South Africa. The year of the Sharpeville Massacre, a rural uprising in Mpondoland and the first attempt to assassinate the architect of Apartheid, Hendrik Verwoerd.
When she was 20 years old she was recruited into the clandestine South African Communist Party that had been outlawed in 1950, more than ten years earlier.
She also became part of the African Resistance Movement sabotage organisation. For this she was detained in solitary confinement, beaten up, charged and remained in prison for a year and a half. Much of this time she was the only white woman political prisoner.
She left South Africa becoming stateless. In London she married lawyer Albie Sachs. Over the 24 years of her exile from her homeland, she remained involved in the underground work of the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress. She worked closely with Joe Slovo and Dr. Yusuf Dadoo both icons of the liberation struggle.
She returned to South Africa in 1990 and participated in the excitement of the years to the ANC’s victory in the first democratic elections of 1994. She has also lived through the disappointment of the Jacob Zuma presidency and the response across wide sectors of the South African population to the corrupt capture of the state he leads.