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Remembering Jessie Duarte

The African National Congress (ANC) is set to celebrate the life of it’s late Deputy Secretary-General Yasmin “Jessie” Duarte at a memorial service at Johannesburg City Hall on Thursday afternoon.

Duarte died in the early hours of Sunday following an 8-month long battle with cancer and was buried the same day in accordance with Islamic tradition.

The memorial forms part of a week-long period of mourning declared by the ANC. Duarte was elected Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC at the 53rd National Conference in Mangaung in December 2012, a position she was re-elected to at the Nasrec conference in 2017.

Last year Duarte announced that she would retire after the party’s next national conference, which will be held in Johannesburg in December. However, the 68-year-old was placed on medical leave in November last year due to the severity of her illness.

Duarte, who was was a long-time anti-apartheid activist, has been described as a disciplined comrade. She served as Special Assistant to former President Nelson Mandela and struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu.

In 1994 she was appointed to the Gauteng Provincial government as a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) responsible for Safety and Security. Between 1999 and 2003, she served as South Africa’s Ambassador to the Republic of Mozambique.

Duarte will always be remembered for her commitment to the liberation of South Africa and particularly the emancipation of women.

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