We were shocked and saddened at the death of our friend and comarde Jeanette Minnie, a veteran campaigner for media freedom and freedom of expression in South Africa and across the region. Jeanette was an active volunteer in the Right2Know Campaign and the SOS Coalition, and was the first director of the Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) as well as a regional director of the Media Institute for South Africa. Jeanette lost her battle with cancer on 2 November 2016. Tributes for her character and contributions to freedom of expression work have poured in. Here are just a few:
- “It hits so brutally inside. Strong minded, strong willed, strong person. Irreplaceable. Thankful for paths that crossed so often and to such public and personal benefit. RIP. Aluta!” – Tuwani Gumani, Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA)
- “Very saddened to hear about this. In the short time I knew her she was an inspiration and a tremendous source of knowledge on freedom of expression in Africa.” – Micah Reddy, R2K Media Freedom & Diversity team.
- “Such sad news. May she rest in peace.” – Busi Mtabane, R2K Communications Coordinator.
- “I first met Jeanette when I was a junior reporter and she was fighting on behalf of journalists as a union rep. She served the cause of free and independent media and journalists all her life with clarity, hard work and conviction. Such a sudden, shocking goodbye. And far too soon.” – Sue Valentine, Program on Independent Journalism at the Open Society Foundations (OSF), previously Committee to Protect Journalists
- “Very, very sad. I have known Jeanette as a fearless fighter for press freedom since the early ‘80s when she was the GS of the SA Union of Journalists. Her loss will be deeply felt by all those concerned with the struggles she has so tirelessly fought during her career as well as on a personal level as a courageous, thoughtful and insightful colleague.” Mike Aldridge, Cape Town TV.
- “This sad news. We appreciate her contribution to R2K. May she rest in peace.” – Vainola Makan, Right2Know Western Cape.
- “Her passing marks the loss of a fearless defender of media freedom. As the first FXI Executive Director from 1994 to 1997, Jeanette campaigned tirelessly for the removal of censorship laws, the independence and diversity of the media and access to information.” – Freedom of Expression Institute tribute.
- “Jeanette was a feisty, brave and generous member of the SOS Coalition. She freely shared her time and her expertise. She was constantly willing to help, to participate, to contribute, to edit and even to translate (at very short notice and for free!) campaign materials.” SOS Coalition tribute.
- “Jeanette will be remembered with great fondness and respect by all who met her and interacted with her. In her work, she was respected for her incisive and deep insight and at play she was loved for her enthusiasm and zest for life. She had the knack of putting people at ease despite her standing as an internationally renowned expert in her field.” Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) tribute.
- “Jeanette had odd working rhythms, to put it mildly. She wasn’t a morning person. She’d hit the office at about 11 in the morning, sometimes even later, and then she’d work until late into the night. She worked so hard, and with such intensity, it was scary… Through long, complex, convoluted discussions with the likes of Joel Netshitenzhe, Marcel Golding, Raymond Louw, David Niddie and others, she acted as an engine room of the transition to democracy in broadcasting.” Tribute from Jane Duncan.