Three Eastern Cape women have been honoured with national orders. They have been recognised for their role in the fight for liberation.

President Cyril Ramaphosa bestowed the Order of Luthuli, the Order of Ikhamanga, the Order of Baobab, and the Order of Companions of OR Tambo on a number of South Africans who made an impact in the advancement of democracy, and improving the lives of South Africans.

Recognised for exposing Gideon Niewoudt, a member of the apartheid security branch, for his involvement in the death of Steve Biko, Traci Mackie, a former journalist from Port Elizabeth, has received the Order of Ikhamanga in Bronze. The Order recognises citizens who excelled in the field of arts, music, and journalism.

“He used to get edgy when I phoned him and I would ask him about the death of Matthew Goniwe. ‘Where you involved with the death of Mathew Goniwe?’ I think that one day it all got too much for him, and there had been a report where I had alluded to the fact that he was involved, and in sheer rage, and he didn’t mean to, he said.

“I was never involved with Mathew Goniwe, I was involved with Steve Biko”. I said to him can you repeat that. Are you saying you were involved in the death of Steve Biko?  He said yes, not Mathew Goniwe. It was a moment of weakness on his part but unfortunately the story was out,” Mackie explained.

Traci Mackie started working as a journalist at the Daily Dispatch in East London, straight from High School. She recalls how hard it was to be a journalist and not get influenced by the government.

“I knew it was wrong to get involved with the regime, and be an informer. There were so many of my colleagues who did get involved as informers. They have to live with that today, and fortunately I don’t.”

Lillian Diedericks, was recognised for her efforts as a political activist and bestowed with the order of Luthuli in bronze. She was recognised for leading other women from the Eastern Cape during the women’s march to Pretoria against the dompass in 1956.

The 92-year-old has been very vocal about the lack of recognition for her by the democratic government.

“We went to Pretoria, and we did all that we had to do, but now in the end when there are things or people are being given things, they have forgotten about me. Zuma has come and gone, he doesn’t know me, even in his speeches he would say there is one woman who is left from 56. I was buried alive, I’m still buried alive.”

Due to ill health and old age, Diedericks was represented by her daughter Eugene Diedericks at the awards.

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