President Cyril Ramaphosa has designated the funeral of struggle stalwart Jessie Duarte as a special official funeral category 2.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed the death of “comrade Yasmin ‘Jessie’ Duarte, 68, during the early morning of Sunday”.
He said Duarte, whom he described as “both a tower of strength to the organisation as well as a matriarch and pillar of her family” was undergoing treatment for cancer and had been on medical leave since November 2021.
In a statement on Sunday, the presidency said the funeral would be declared a special official category as a “as a mark of reverence” for the former Mozambique ambassador and long-time anti-apartheid activist who served as special assistant to former president Nelson Mandela and struggle stalwart Walter Sisulu.
Ramaphosa will deliver the eulogy at the funeral on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile the Nelson Mandela Foundation has described Duarte, who died on Sunday morning, as a “comrade and friend” to the late former statesman .
The foundation said in a statement it was “deeply saddened to hear that comrade Jessie Duarte has passed away”.
“Jessie’s extraordinarily rich life intersected with that of Nelson Mandela and with the journey of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“Together with Barbara Masekela, between 1990 and 1994 she gave Madiba the dedicated executive assistance he needed in those tumultuous years of transition.
“She became both comrade and friend to him. Jessie was the beloved sister of Achmat Dangor, renowned author and the chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation between 2007 and 2012.
“We join with many in saying hamba kahle to an outstanding South African. She will be missed.”