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Woman Slain in South Africa Remembered as Martyr and Missionary

September 4, 1993

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ Relatives and friends of Amy Biehl remembered the Fulbright scholar as a missionary for democracy in South Africa whose death came at the hands of people she vowed to help.

″Amy extended our family to the world and through her inspiration we will rise above the cruelty, we will rise above the irony and we will rise above despair,″ Biehl’s uncle, Dale Showalter, said Friday at a service.

″Neither Amy nor her work will be forgotten,″ said Matlhosonolo Maboe of the South African National Women’s Coalition. ″Her contribution has made her a part of history.″

Maboe and other South Africans living in California sang ″Oh, Freedom″ and other songs in English and Xosha at the service in St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in this coastal community.

The 26-year-old woman, who was white, was stabbed and beaten to death Aug. 25 by a mob of young blacks as she drove three black friends home to Guguletu township near Cape Town.

Two members of the youth wing of the radical anti-apartheid Pan Africanist Congress were arrested and charged with her murder.

Biehl was working on several projects in South Africa, including representation for women under the country’s new constitution and voter registration in Botswana and Angola.

″With eyes wide open, Amy was not naive. She knew precisely what could happen ... and it did,″ said the Rev. John Huffman.

About 800 mourners attended the service, including Ms. Biehl’s parents, two sisters and a brother. Also attending was Melanie Jacobs, Amy’s roommate who brought the woman’s ashes back from South Africa.

Ms. Biehl had planned to return to the United States and attend a doctoral program at Rutgers University this fall.

Scott Meinert, who told mourners he had planned to propose when Ms. Biehl returned, said she ″made friends with leaders of nations and children″ and others from all nationalities and walks of life.

″How could I not fall in love with her,″ he said. ″She made friends like most of us make mistakes.″

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