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Rebecca Kotane
Rebecca Kotane
Birth: 12 February 1912
Thaba 'Nchu, Free State, South Africa
Death: 31 January 2021
Diepkloof, Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa
Age: 108 years, 354 days
Country: South AfricaZAF

Rebecca Kotane (née Selutle; 12 February 1912 – 31 January 2021) was a South African centenarian who was one of the oldest living people in South Africa at time of her death. She was the widow of South African politician and activist Moses Kotane.


Rebecca Seditle was born in Thaba 'Nchu, Free State, South Africa on 12 February 1912. She had at least one sister: Mirriam.

She was working as a maid when she met her future husband Moses. She married Moses Kotane in 1945. The couple had five children (including the ambassador Sam Kotane).

Kotane took part in the defiance campaigns in the 1950s and mobilisation towards the adoption of the Freedom Charter in 1955.

In the 9 August 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings, in which she took part, she was among the women detained by the apartheid regime. Detained for two weeks, Kotane shared a cell with other stalwarts of our movement, including Albertina Sisulu, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi, Amina Cachalia, Violet Wynberg and others. In detention, they were gravely mistreated and humiliated by the apartheid regime’s authorities, intending to break their revolutionary spirits and discourage them from continuing with the struggle. At some point the apartheid regime even enticed Kotane with a mansion and urged her to divorce her husband, Moses Kotane, long-time SACP General Secretary, and turn against the movement. Kotane stood her ground and never betrayed her revolutionary principles.

She last saw her husband in 1963 when he went to exile in Tanzania. This followed relentless house raids, arrests, threats and acts of victimisation by the apartheid regime, which intensified especially after the enactment in 1950 of the Suppression of Communism Act and the state of emergency in 1960. Even after the death of Kotane in May 1978, Kotane persisted in the fight for liberation.

Rebecca Kotane died at her home in Diepkloof, Soweto, Gauteng, South Africa on 31 January 2021 at the age of 108 years, 354 days, a few days before her 109th birthday.