Yasmin ‘Jessie’ Duarte, the ANC’s long-serving Deputy Secretary-General, died early on Sunday morning after a battle with cancer. Duarte was known for being outspoken and for not shying away from the official line. Tributes on social media have described her a fierce, tough and a deeply committed activist.
Jessie Duarte was born on 19 September in 1953 in Newclare, Johannesburg, and was one of nine children. She attended school in Coronationville, Johannesburg, and completed matric at Coronationville Secondary School.
Her political career started in 1979 when struggle stalwart Albertina Sisulu, wife to former ANC deputy president Walter Sisulu, recruited her to establish women’s structures throughout the country. She served as an activist in various organisations including the Federation of Transvaal Women, a United Democratic Front (UDF) affiliate.
This is when she was given the opportunity to work with anti-apartheid activist Reverend Beyers Naudé to set up and administer a scholarship fund to educate and skill ANC and UDF activists. Duarte’s activism led to her detainment without trial in 1988. However, she was released and placed under restriction orders until the State of Emergency was lifted.
She rose to the ranks of the ANC’s top structures when she was elected to…