Violet Seboni

Published on website August 3, 2018

She was born on 18 September 1965. Violet never knew her parents, was raised by her grandmother and later by her grandmother’s friend. After high school she went to look for work in the clothing industry. Violet was a single mother and a garment worker who raised her two daughters, Lesego and Lesedi, on the modest wages that millions of women across the world earn. These women work long hours to sew our clothes, make the caps we wear, the bed linen we sleep on, the towels we dry ourselves with, only to earn very little wages to feed and support their families.

In 1999 Violet was elected as the first female Chairperson of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) East Rand branch. In 2001 she was elected as Treasurer of SACTWU’s Gauteng region and then as a SACTWU Deputy President. In 2003 she was elected as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Deputy President. She held these two latter positions until her death, and as her daughter, Lesego has said, ‘she died with her boots on’. Violet died during the 2009 general election campaign, whilst travelling to an election meeting of the African National Congress (ANC) Women’s League in the North West Province.

Violet Seboni passed away tragically in a car accident near Ventersdorp on Friday 3 April 2009. She was on her way to deliver a general elections message at an ANC Women’s League event.

Sourced from Violet Seboni Memorial Lecture by Ebrahim Patel

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