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Biography of Jeff THAMSANQA RADEBE

South Africa > Politics : Jeff THAMSANQA RADEBE

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Born on 18/02/1953 (format : day/month/year)

Biography :

Jeffrey Thamsanqa Radebe.(born February 18,1953) is currently South Africa's Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Radebe served as Minister of Public Enterprises (1999 - 2004) and Minister of Transport (2004 - 2009). As Minister of Transport, Radebe was actively involved in the Arrive Alive campaign that strives to minimize road accidents.

The ordinary person's need for a meaningful and worthy life is at the heart of Jeff Radebe's philosophy. For him a reborn South Africa must fundamentally change people's lives for the better, allowing them to forget the violence of apartheid.

Radebe has wide experience as a political educator, where he keeps the focus on democracy. He emphasises that accountability at every level and responsibility to the majority are the keys to good politics.

Radebe's work aims at bringing peace to the Natal region, and he serves on the Natal Regional Dispute Resolution Committee and is chairperson of the regional ANC Peace Forum. He was also secretary of the SACP's ILG during 1991. He was born on February 18 1953 in Cato Manor where the family lived until one rainy day in 1958 when they were evicted to KwaMashu. Radebe remembers how police vehicles roamed up and down all over the township during the 1960 State of Emergency while the whole community sang the national anthem.

At Zululand University, where he was studying law, he exhausted his involvement in black consciousness. However, BC introduced him to political activism. He and fellow students read avidly, and were largely inspired by Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro and Albert Luthuli.

The liberation of Mozambique and the inspiring message of Radio Freedom gave a powerful boost to their commitment. In 1976 Radebe served legal articles in Durban. During the student uprisings he joined the ANC underground.

In 1977 the ANC instructed him to leave for Mozambique. After two years as a radio journalist with Radio Freedom in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, broadcasting back into South Africa, Radebe began studies in law at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig.

In 1981 he received his LLM in International Law. The next few years saw him living in Zambia, where he worked for the ANC's international department, and Lesotho, creating underground ANC and SACP structures inside South Africa and giving political direction to activists. He also underwent military training with MK in this period.

In 1985 he spent a year at the Lenin International School in Moscow. Radebe records that his studies in Germany and the then USSR shaped a new outlook in him, which emphasised the global dimensions of economic and political change.

Then, in April 1986, Radebe arrived in Johannesburg from Lesotho on a secret mission. He calls this his least successful undertaking: he was not cautious enough and was arrested. Convicted under the Terrorism Act, his 10-year sentence was reduced to six on appeal. The appeal judge was Justice Richard Goldstone, to whom Radebe would testify seven years later during the Goldstone Commission of Inquiry into violence in Natal. On Robben Island Radebe was active in the ANC's political department. By the time he left he was head of the department. He was released in 1990, having organised a successful 12-day hunger strike to speed up the release of political prisoners.

His first job, after leaving Robben Island, was as Projects' Co-ordinator for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) until his election as chairperson of Southern Natal (ANC) in November 1991.

In Radebe's eyes there can be no political tolerance until the sources of violence have been rooted out.

He has two children, Vukani and Mandisa.

He is married to Bridgette Radebe, South Africa's first black female mining entrepreneur and sister of Patrice Motsepe (one of the richest men in South Africa).


Last update : 02/18/2010

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