Johannesburg 240909 Ex student Rev. Motlalepula Chabaku attending the 70th birthday of Madibane High. Rev. Motlalepula Chabaku and former prominant students of Madibane High has formed a fund to collect money for the upgrading of the school. picture : neil baynes

The last surviving leader of the 1956 women's march on the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, has died, the presidency said on Sunday.

Rev Motlalepula Chabaku, who was in her late 70s, died on Friday in Rockville, Soweto, after an illness, an ANC spokesman confirmed.

“We will always remember fondly the ethic of hard work that she instilled on many who worked with her,” President Jacob Zuma said in conveying his condolences to her family,

A deeply spiritual person, she had carried an abiding sense of community and compassion for all people, especially women, the poor and the downtrodden, Zuma said.

“We thank her for dedicating all her life to the liberation of our people and acknowledge the role she played in the nation's reconstruction and development.”

Chabaku was the last surviving leader of the 20,000-strong women's march against apartheid era pass laws. Others were Lillian Ngoyi and Helen Joseph.

She was also a member of the provincial legislatures of both Gauteng and the Free State, and was the first Speaker of the Free State legislature. - Sapa