Gille de Vlieg was born in 1940 in Plymouth, England. She was trained as a nurse and worked in Pietermaritzburg and London. De Vlieg then moved to Johannesburg and in 1982 she became a member of Black Sash advice office in Khotso House, where Afrapix had its offices.
It was here that she claims to have recognised that she “could be both an 'activist' and a 'photographer'”. In 1984 in KwaNgema, after documenting various “black spots” in the rural Transvaal for four years, Gille met Paul Weinberg who encouraged her to become a part of Afrapix.
During the same year, a Tembisa COSAS organizer introduced her to the life of a chaotic township. This further encouraged her to use photography as a tool of protest.
In her own words, “I wanted to make a contribution to an alternative view of South Africa, a view not seen on the South African TV screen then.”
In 1987 she participated in the Culture in Another South Africa Conference that took place in Amsterdam. She joined the group exhibition “Taking Sides” in 1989, and took part in other Staffrider exhibitions.
De Vlieg now lives on the Natal South Coast.
• Interview conducted by SAHO CEO Omar Badsha