The late African National Congress (ANC) deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte, always put the needs of others first even though she was experiencing the most unimaginable pain from her battle with cancer, according to her family.
RIP Jessie Duarte
Duarte, the longest serving member of the ANC’s top six national leadership, passed away in the early hours of Sunday morning after a long battle with cancer. She was 68.
Her brother Zane Dangor delivered a tribute on behalf of the Duarte family at her funeral service on Sunday afternoon at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a special official category two funeral for the late struggle stalwart. The funeral was held in accordance with Muslim rights.
Dangor said the ANC struggle stalwart shielded her family from witnessing her pain because she knew it would cause them a lot of distress.
“This selfless nature of embracing the other was part of Jessie’s DNA. Learning from her mom Julie, she sacrificed her own comfort and well-being to take care of others,” he said.
‘Your laughter never changed throughout’
Dangor read a letter from Duarte’s daughter, Zoe, that she wrote to her mom in the last few weeks of her life.
In an excerpt from the letter, Zoe described how difficult it was for the family to see Duarte suffering from cancer and the toll it took on them.
But nonetheless, Zoe said her mother remained strong for her family.
An excerpt of the letter read: “Mom, I’ve been at your side, watched you, [and] helped you day and night. Your energy decreased, you lost weight, and you wanted space so that we don’t see the pain that you’re in.
“I could also see mom how little had changed. Your smile is still the same, still warm. Your laughter never changed throughout.”
Dangor said the family would continue to celebrate Duarte’s life and contribution to South Africa’s democracy.
“Saying that you are among the best of us, is not just a slogan because we’ve experienced your generosity and support. And indeed, for us, you were the best.”
Dangor concluded by referencing Zoe’s letter, which he said summed up the family’s sentiments.
“Mom, when the doctors told us that it is not looking good and you only have weeks or a few months to live… time flashed before my eyes. We need more time mom.”
He added: “Mom your body is slowing down, I ask God for peace; the peace of knowing that you will rest in peace.”