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Jean herself acknowledged that her first inclinations towards Communism derived partly from reading Dickens’s novels. Mainly it was the author’s sensitive pointing out of the “gap between wealth and poverty (which) was most painfully described”. She also recalls reading of the effects that literature denouncing tyranny and advocating equality and respect had on the political development of comrades such as Chris Hani, the first General Secretary of the South African Communist Party after the end of apartheid, who was so savagely and tragically struck quickly down by an assassin.
She joined the Communist Party since, as she put, “it seemed to be the most effective form of protest at that time but we protested against Government policy, we gave out pamphlets and leaflets illegally of course, we put up illegal slogans …”
A fellow COD member took her on as a teacher at his private college after she lost her job whe
In July 1964, three weeks after Nelson Mandela a
As the police hammered o
She was prosecuted with fourteen others including Bram Fischer, the cla
She was a year in detention, mostly solitary, and three years in a string of prisons, including the notorious jail in Barberton; a story subsequently recounted in her book "Convictions: A Woman Political Prisoner Remembers" (1998).
She was then a
A copy of Otto Kuusinen’s `Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism’, found inside a brown paper cover and labelled `Fundamentals of English Syntax’, was used as evidence in Jean Middleton’s trial to show that political prisoners were cunning and dangerous. But much of the evide
Jean was held i
She moved to
From 1985 to 1991 Middleton worked full-time for the ANC’s Department of Information and Publicity (DIP) on Sechaba magazine. and eventually went to work for Sechaba, the African National Congress's journal. In the end, she felt she'd done more for the struggle in exile than at home, where she returned in 1991 to edit the Communist paper Umsebe
Jean Middleton gave evidence to the 1997 Truth and Reconciliation Commission regarding her imprisonment.
Suffering from emphysema, he retur
Sources: Archie Dick “Censorship and the reading practices of political prisoners in South Africa, 1960-1990”
J Middleton, J. (1998) `Convictions: a woman political prisoner remembers’, Randburg: Ravan Press;
Innovation, No.35, December 2007
Guardian 3rd January 2011