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South African Communist Party statement on the death of Comrade Rica Hodgson

12 January 2018

The South African Communist Party (SACP) lowers its Red Flag in honour of the gallant stalwart of our struggle for liberation and social emancipation, Rica Hodgson. Born 1 July 1920, Comrade Rica Hodgson died at an old age of 97 around 4pm on Thursday, 11 January 2018. The SACP expresses its message of heartfelt condolences to and joins the Hodgson family in mourning the death of a mother, a progressive author and one of the finest revolutionaries the Communist Party and our national liberation movement have ever produced. In honour of Comrade Rica Hodgson, South Africa must deepen work to build a completely non-racial and non-sexist, just and democratic society. As an ultimate goal, that is a South Africa without the exploitation of one person by another, patriarchy and domination by imperialist forces.

Comrade Rica Hodgson was awarded The National Order of Luthuli in Bronze for her excellent contribution to the struggle for a non-racial, non-sexist, just and democratic South Africa. Underpinning and guiding her involvement in the struggle was, above all, her communist conviction and activism. This is what produced her outstanding contribution to our struggle for freedom, as recognised through the award as follows:

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Rica Hodgson devoted her life to the struggle for democracy, confronting the enemy at all stages of the struggle from the early 1940s, until her retirement in 1996 as secretary to Comrade Walter Sisulu.

She met Jack Hodgson, whom she married in 1945. The two shared a life of struggle. In 1943, she became a fundraiser for the Springbok Legion - an organisation comprising ex-servicemen that mobilised against the rising threat of fascism in South Africa.

She joined the Communist Party in 1946 and in 1953 she was a founding member of the Congress of Democrats (COD) that organised white progressives into the mainstream Congress Alliance headed by the African National Congress (ANC). She travelled around the country with other alliance members, building a network of support. She became the national secretary of the COD until August 1954, when she was served with banning orders, under the apartheid regime`s Suppression of Communism Act, Number 44 of 1950.

In 1954 Hodgson served on the National Action Council of the historic 1955 Congress of the People. In 1957, following the arrest of 156 leaders of the struggle, she became a fundraiser and secretary of the Treason Trial Defence Fund and later, in 1961, for the Johannesburg branch of the Defence and Aid Fund, South Africa. In 1959, she was secretary for the musical production King Kong that sought to promote black jazz musicians and non-racial performances.

She was detained during the 1960 state of emergency. In the build up to the launch of the joint SACP-ANC military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), Rica and Jack`s small flat in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, was used to produce explosives for the 1961 Sabotage Campaign. This was a high risk venture, revealing the Hodgsons` courage and determination to withstand possible consequences. In 1962, in the same flat, she and Jack were placed under house arrest.

They left the country illegally in mid-1963 to set up a transit centre outside Lobatsi in the then Bechuanaland (Botswana), for MK cadres en-route to training abroad. The couple was declared prohibited immigrants by the British Government and deported to London in September 1963.

From 1964 to 1981, Hodgson worked full-time for the British Defence and Aid Fund and headed the Welfare Section of the International Defence and Aid Fund, covertly channelling funds for the defence of apartheid prisoners and the support of their families. Thousands of people were assisted with regular income transmitted through a network of church and sympathetic people, which Hodgson helped to establish in various countries. During this period, she continued to assist in clandestine Communist Party, ANC and MK work, and her small flat in London was a workshop and meeting place for Jack and other comrades producing underground material for the struggle at home.

Hodgson volunteered and joined her son, Spencer, his wife Claudia and their daughter, Tanya, in the development and administration work at the Solomon Mahlangu Freedom College, which was established by our liberation movement in Tanzania after the Soweto Uprising. She served as secretary to the late Tim Maseko, and to Henry Makgothi. She returned to South Africa in 1991 after the unbanning of the SACP and the ANC the previous year.

Rica Hodgson embraced the cause of human freedom without regard for the possible consequences to herself and her family. She out-rightly rejected the racial privilege that many chose to enjoy in the face of a crime against humanity.

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ISSUED BY THE SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNIST PARTY | SACP
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