It’s unfortunate that some people would wish me dead, says Jessie Duarte who has cancer

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ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has spoken out against rumours that she had died, saying it was unfortunate that whoever spread those rumours would wish her dead.

Duarte was reacting after rumours were rife on social media yesterday morning that she had died of cancer.

She was speaking in a voice note sent to ANC officials and leaked to the Pretoria News.

The ANC issued a statement dismissing her death as “fake news”.

Duarte said: “There is rather an unfortunate message making the rounds (on social media, that I’m dead). It is creating a bit of unpleasantness and panic. Apparently, according to whoever started this rumour, I passed away this morning (yesterday).”

Duarte reassured the party that she was still alive, and getting stronger each day. “I am still alive, and I am getting stronger by the day. It is cancer, and it has its challenges, but I am fighting very hard to regain my health.”

The governing party’s deputy secretary general was unable to attend the party’s 110th anniversary in Polokwane in January. She has been on sick leave since last year, recovering from complications related to cancer.

Duarte has been running the ANC’s secretariat since the suspension of embattled secretary-general Ace Magashule, who is facing corruption charges, until she suffered health complications last year. Treasurer Paul Mashatile has since taken over Duarte’s duties, enlisting the services of national executive committee (NEC) member Gwen Ramokgopa as reinforcement in the Secretary General’s office.

In a media statement yesterday, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabedispelled the rumours of Duarte’s death, calling them “inhumane” and “barbaric”.

The party said: “The ANC has learnt with great shock of fake news messages doing the rounds that our deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte has passed away. These fake news messages are inhumane, barbaric, inconsiderate and hurtful to the DSG, her family, friends, comrades and the movement.

“The ANC categorically dismisses these claims peddled by some through fake news messages across social and mainstream media platforms. The DSG has been ill for some time and is now well on the road to full recovery.”

The party said it had been in support of Duarte, encouraging her to daily display strength and looked forward to her imminent return to office.

“We call on those responsible for the dissemination of these malicious rumours to immediately refrain from such acts as they are causing nothing but unnecessary panic within the movement and among Duarte’s family, friends and comrades.

“Should the peddlers of the misleading rumours persist, the ANC will be left with no choice but to approach the relevant authorities to investigate the origins and act against those responsible.

“We commend our national officials, ANC national executive committee members and all those who visited the DSG. The outpouring of messages of support and prayers have contributed immensely to the DSG’s recovery.

“We convey our gratitude to the medical team for their professional service. The ANC will offer moral support to the DSG, and update the nation on progress relating to her recovery.”

Meanwhile the organisation held, virtually, a special NEC meeting to process policy discussion documents as part of preparations for the national policy conference, postponed last year due to Covid-19.

Pretoria News