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‘We lost one of our mothers’: Faieza Desai

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“We lost one of our mothers today”. That’s how Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation, BDS South Africa described political and social activist Faieza Desai, who died on Thursday at the age of 58. Faieza succumbed to lymphoma, a cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system. She is the wife of prominent South African judge Siraj Desai. Hundreds of people from different backgrounds attended her janazah to pay their respects.

Faieza was a committed activist of the Palestine solidarity and BDS movement playing an important role in several campaigns including the Russell Tribunal on Palestine.

“Comrade Faieza was also a mother and parent to so many of us younger activists opening her home to us and just generally checking in on our wellbeing,” said BDS South Africa in a statement.

Faieza Desai, who held a master’s degree in public health, was a nurse by profession and contributed significantly to that sector. In the 1980s Desai was a member of the United Democratic Front and for many years after its disbandment continued to remain an activist in the ANC. More specifically she played a role in organising and working in the local civic association in Walmer Estate, in Cape Town, and was a party agent for the ANC for every election since 1994.

In a Facebook post, Palestinian solidarity activist Farid Esack said the movement has lost an amazing comrade in BDS-South Africa, in the ANC – especially the Woodstock Branch, and in all the other community activist formations such as the local Civic and ILRIG.

“The loss to Judge Desai and his family is immeasurable and we extend our sincere condolences to all of them. I am grateful to have had the chance with Comrade Faiez Jacobs to have visited her two days ago,” he said.

Faieza lived a full life participating in running events, hiking and climbing mountains throughout the world, including Mount Kilimanjaro and Base Camp Mount Everest, among others.

“In her memory we will continue to pledge our solidarity to the Palestinian people in their fight for liberation and we hope in our conduct to try and emulate her gentle, caring and loving nature,” said BDS.

“On this occasion we send our love to all the mothers and parents out there who, beyond their own activism, also care and nurture us in the solidarity movement and our deepest respect to all Palestinian mothers and parents who persevere even when their children are arrested, tortured or killed by the Israeli regime.”

“Let us build a more caring world in the memory of comrade Faieza Desai, hamba kahle. Our sincere condolences go out to her dearest children as well as to her husband, Judge Siraj Desai, and all her friends, family and comrades.”

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