Gille de Vlieg

Born in Plymouth, England during WWII, she arrived in South Africa 10th February 1944.

In 1982 she became a member of Black Sash and in 1984 of Afrapix, a photographic collective. As well as being active within Black Sash, Gille was invited into Tembisa, Ekurhuleni, by the then Congress of South African Students’ (COSAS) Tembisa organiser in August 1984. This gave her insights into the political and social lives of activists and other members of this community.

Her activist work with the Johannesburg Black Sash included participating in their work against rural removals and their protest stands, she was their Free the Children campaign organiser (1986), the Johannesburg Black Sash Regional Organiser (1990) and their National Voter Education Organiser (1992) and in 1995 became the Transvaal Rural Action Committee (TRAC) Director.

In June 1986, gille was arrested after a raid on her house, and held at the Hillbrow police station where she remained in isolation for thirty-seven days. She was arrested for brief periods on other occasions in the 1980s.

After her release she continued to cover: land removals, rural, township and gender lifestyles, the United Democratic Front (UDF), anti-harassment campaigns, police violence, protests against the death penalty, funerals, Black Sash events and protests, protests against incorporation into Bophuthatswana, the Release Mandela Campaign, the End Conscription Campaign (ECC), conscientious objectors, the African National Congress (ANC) Welcome Home Rallies, Day of the Vow (Geloftedag), street children, and homeless people.

Many of her images formed part of the Afrapix monthly packages sent to various international Anti-Apartheid organisations to support the fight against Apartheid. She is also one of two women featured in Beyond the Barricades (1989). She was part of many collective exhibitions and her photographs have appeared in a variety of publications. The gille de vlieg photographic collection is included in the on-line South African History Archives (SAHA). Her recent activities include working with SAHA on “Entering Tembisa: An Oral and Photographic Exploration of the Community” (2013) and revisiting and photographing three rural communities affected by the Apartheid land policies. In 2014 she was nominated as a finalist for the Mbokodo Awards.

gille felt and still feels, she was an activist first and then a photographer, using her photography as part of her activism.

gille has a daughter, a son and five grandchildren and now lives on the kwaZuluNatal North Coast of South Africa.

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