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We will miss this brave woman who was truly the Iron Lady of Seychelles

28th February 2022

A family strong together: Carlette with her sons Fazal, Jafar and Hatim
A family strong together: Carlette with her sons Fazal, Jafar and Hatim

By Lewis Betsy

Family and friends have been paying tribute to Carlette Ball, “The Iron Lady of Seychelles”, who has died aged 77.

Carlette, nee Tall, like many others suffered terribly under the brutal Rene regime, when her partner Hassan Ali went missing in August 1977.

I called her The Iron Lady because against unimaginable odds she would not give up in her determination to find out what happened to Hassan.

The businessman’s car was discovered abandoned on the road near to their home at St Louis. An empty bullet casing was found in the front and there were blood stains on the driver’s seat. Hassan was never to be seen again.

Their son Fazal believed that Hassan was targeted by the Rene regime because of his strong support for the deposed President, James Mancham.

Carlette, who was the sister of my wife Juliana, told her harrowing story to the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission in November 2019.

She said she was arrested in 1978 and in 1979 and spent three months in detention at the Union Vale prison on both occasions.

In her first detention in 1978, she had a nervous breakdown and had to be transferred for treatment at the hospital where visitors including her family were not allowed to see her.

When released in 1979, she was advised by the Commissioner of Police to leave the country or else suffer the same fate as Hassan. She left for political asylum in the United Kingdom in July 1980, and was followed a year later by her children.

Carlette said that at one time she and her family were under the protection of Scotland Yard after the assassination of Gerard Hoareau in 1985. 

My sister-in-law was with Hassan for 17 years and they had four children: three sons Fazal, Jafar and Hatim and a daughter Mariam who died in childbirth. 

She went on to marry and stayed in the UK before returning to Seychelles to be with her family a few years ago.

The funeral service for Carlette, whose middle name was Fulgencia, was held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Victoria, Mahe, on Saturday 5th February 2022.

Among the mourners was the Vice President of Seychelles, Mr Ahmed Afif.

The Mass was directed by Father David Alcindor.

The Order of Service began with the hymn How Great Thou Art and it was followed by prayers and a Scripture reading from The Book of Wisdom by Gylian Mein.

Sharing tears and laughter: Carlette with sister Juliana.
Sharing tears and laughter: Carlette with sister Juliana.

The Eulogy was read by Carlette’s sister Juliana Betsy.

Juliana expressed her love for her “Special Sister” saying: “You had a beautiful life, but it wasn’t always easy. 

“You stood firm for what you believed in. You were harassed, detained away from your kids and family, but you never let the Tall family down. Your courage and determination to never give up the fight made you our hero. We are so proud of you sis.

“I shall miss our daily calls and chats. We had so much fun, laughter and crying at the same time. Since you passed away life just hasn’t been the same again. I would move heaven and earth to have you here with us again. The time we spent together meant the world to me. 

“I have lost a very special friend.

“I miss you so much until we meet again. I can hear you loud and clear ‘Ewla aret fatigue moi ou’.

“We love you ser Carlette.”

Carlette’s three sons, Fazal, Jafar, and Hatim, described their mother as “an exceptional lady”.

She had many friends and well-wishers, and they said the love, support, prayers and kind words they received had been a “huge comfort” to them. 

They also particularly want to thank Gylian Mein, who helped nurse Carlette.

I was honoured to read a word of thanks at the end of the Mass.

At the cemetery, Meditation was conducted by Glenn Stravens, the son of Carlette’s sister Marry Anne.

After all that Carlette had gone through, I am saddened that in her lifetime she and the family never had the closure they hoped for over the tragic loss of Hassan Ali. 

However, the people of Seychelles will remember her for her strength, courage and determination to get rid of the Marxist regime. She made sure of that when she went to the polls in October, 2020.

She was truly an Iron Lady in name and deed. May she now rest in peace.

Fun times: Sisters Anuota, left, and Juliana join Carlette outside La Batista, her favourite place to relax for lunch and music
Fun times: Sisters Anuota, left, and Juliana join Carlette outside La Batista, her favourite place to relax for lunch and music

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