1998 • Community Health Award
The requirement that all blacks carry passbooks was seen as a major tool of oppression against the African people and Josie Makotoko wanted to see their dignity restored.
At her home in Orlando, Soweto, a meeting
was held to discuss what could be done. A previous attempt at protest
involved burning passbooks on a large bonfire but this had little effect
on the government. It was decided, therefore, to mount a campaign
where all passbooks were returned to the local pass offices as a way of
peacefully protesting the unjustness of the law.
the efforts of doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly to help the
injured, eighty-seven people died
as a result of the battle. Even while the hospital staff were trying to
save the lives of those who had been shot, the army tried to disrupt surgery
and attempted to retrieve the bullets that the surgeons had removed lest they
be used as evidence against them. At this point, Josie and her colleagues
stood firm and demanded that the army respect the hospital as a war-free environment
and allow them to continue their work. This stance was perceived as a crime
against the country and the hospital staff were harassed by the officers.
used was Shangani clothing and others were disguised as mine workers. Josie
also supplied them with food for their journeys. Sadly, some of those
she helped died in exile.
Josie was compelled to leave South Africa and took up residence in Canada where she has continued to be a voice against apartheid. She gives presentations on South Africa in churches, schools and community centers, sharing her experiences with others so that they may better understand the situation in her homeland. She also assists women in childbirth on a volunteer basis, is involved in race relations, the prevention of child abuse and also in a women's crisis center.
Having left South Africa as a registered nurse and midwife, Josie now holds a BA Psychology from Laurentian University and a Masters degree in Health from Central Michigan University.