A mural of the late Dulcie September was painted at the Dulcie September civic centre in Athlone on Friday to raise awareness about her life and the sacrifice she made for her country.
Johannesburg street artist Dbongz Mahlathi painted the mural on a wall near the civic centre’s entrance, as part of the Murder in Paris Impact Campaign run by film-maker Enver Samuels.
The documentary, Murder in Paris, was aired at Athlone High School on the eve of Youth Day in June (“Dulcie September doccie screened at Athlone High,” Athlone News, June 18). Mr Samuels said he wanted Dulcie September’s name to be known to the world. It was especially important for Athlone to know who she was because she grew up and taught there, he said.
Dulcie September was the ANC’s chief representative in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg. She was shot five times in the face on March 29 1988 in Paris at the age of 52.
More than 30 years later, there is much speculation that she was killed because of her investigations into arms trading.
According to Mr Samuels, lawyers acting on behalf of Dulcie September’s family are trying to get the French authorities to reopen the murder case. He is appealing to the public to watch Murder in Paris and sign a petition calling on the French government to give the case urgent attention.
The mural is one more way to get this message across.
“When people look at the mural, there will be link to the Justice for Dulcie campaign and they can sign the petition to have the case reopened in France so that the family of Dulcie can have justice and get answers about her death. In April 2022, they will start the first stage in trying to get the case reopened,” he said.
Ms September lived with her family in Denchworth Road, Belgravia Estate and was a teacher at Bridgetown Primary School in Athlone.
She was a member of the Cape Peninsula Students’ Union (CPSU), the Athlone branch of the Teacher’s League of South Africa (TLSA) and the African People’s Democratic Union of Southern Africa (Apdusa).
She joined a study group, the Yu Chi Chan Club, named after the Chinese term for guerilla warfare. When the club was disbanded, it was replaced by the National Liberation Front (NLF), founded by Dr Neville Alexander.
While a member of the NLF she was arrested on October 7 1963 and detained without trial. Along with nine others, Ms September faced charges relating to conspiracy to commit acts of sabotage and incite acts of politically motivated violence. She was sentenced to five years imprisonment on April 15 1964.
After serving her jail sentence, during which she suffered severe physical and mental abuse, Ms September still faced a five-year banning order which placed her under house arrest, and she was not able to take part in political activity or work as a teacher so she applied for an exit permit, and left for England on December 19 1973.
While in London, she joined the ANC and worked tirelessly in the anti-apartheid movement, contributing to numerous organisations and campaigns.
She returned to the continent to work at the ANC’s headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia, in 1981 and was appointed to her final post in Paris in 1983. Her murder has never been solved.
Mr Mahlathi, said that he hoped the mural would raise community awareness about Dulcie September and the sacrifice she made for her country.
“I hope that the community and politicians can learn from her selfless acts. Her life was given for us, and I hope that this inspires future generations to ask questions and just take from the pages of her life.”
Michael Arendse, Ms September’s nephew, said that the mural ably captured both his aunt’s likeness and spirit.
“Thank you to everyone involved in this project,” he said, praising Mr Mahlathi on an “amazing job”.
Read more about Dulcie September on the Murder in Paris website at murderinparis.com