IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 15 FEBRUARY 2022
Farewell to Leonora Mathe – a youth HIV prevention and treatment activist who made great strides in the role at the Treatment Action Campaign and the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC)
Born on 19 October 1991, all you have to say about the type of people like her is “Leonora veni, vidi, vici”. Those who know her and saw her grow into a formidable force she became will tell you that indeed Leonora came, saw & conquered. Not many people live this short and leave behind the giant leaps that Leonora has achieved. “Go rest were Leonora, we will continue in your footsteps to end HIV and TB. The pain her family and friends experience, is the pain we at Show Me Your Number will feel as we watch her empty desk’ says Mabalane Mfundisi, Executive Director of Show Me Your Number.
On Saturday, 12 February 2022 she was called to a greater place because her assignment on earth was complete. Heaven and the Mathe ancestors have gained a soldier who is always battle-ready on the war against HIV & TB. “As her lifeless body laid in front of me, I froze from shock and disbelief that Nora is gone, no more to return. When she arrived and took the world by storm, I was there to nurture her and see he grow. When she was no more, it had to be me next to her to make sure her spirit arrives home in perfect peace. Nora was not just an activist and a comrade to me, she was my daughter” says Sibongile Tshabalala, Chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign
Leonora will be laid to rest on Saturday, 19 February 2022. To celebrate her short and fulfilling life, a memorial service will be held in Johannesburg on Friday, 18 February 2022. Further details will be communicated once they have been finalised by the family.
In her own words, Leonora described herself as “A committed and passionate health rights activist. A young woman who acquired skills in leadership, campaign planning and implementation, lobbying, communications, media, administration, facilitation and giving speeches. Leonora has an excellent understanding of the current health system challenges, the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB, and STIs, and issues affecting young people in regard to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in particular HIV prevention. Leonora has many good working relationships with key partners and has engaged in various structures such as SANAC and UNAIDS. She has built relationships with key representatives of the press and is a competent media representative. I understand the structures and leadership of civil society and the complexities of membership based organizations. I am openly living with HIV and I am extremely committed to the values and campaigns of the health industry and departments”.
In her short and productive life as an HIV and TB activist for young people, Leonora left the following footprints:
- At the time of her death, she was an Advocacy Officer at Show Me Your Number where she joined the organisation in January 2021. In her role as an Advocacy Officer, she was part of a team that was driving the Generation Change Makers movement of young people who through their empowerment on issues relating to HIV, TB, GBV and Human Rights are changing the narrative that youth have solutions to their problems and they should be given space to lead for better health outcomes.
- Between April 2017 until February 2019, she was the Campaigns and Advocacy Officer at the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). Leonora was chiselled, shaped and polished at the TAC which prepared her for many roles she occupied as an HIV and TB activist.
- From 2017 until her untimely death in February 2022, Leonora was an active volunteer members of She Decides global movement – She Decides is a global movement that was launched in response to the United States President Mr Donald Trump’s global Gag Rule which restricted all countries and organizations that receive the American donor funding to perform abortion services.
- In 2016, Leonora was elected as the Co-Chair and Coordinator of She Conquers, a position she held until December 2019. She Conquers is a national campaign that aims to improve the lives of adolescent girls and young women in South Africa that was launched by then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as the Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).
- Between August 2016 – June 2017, Leonora was elected and served as the Deputy Secretary of the Vosloorus Branch of the Treatment Action Campaign and was later was given additional responsibilities to serve as the Support Person for the Gauteng Provincial TAC Office Bearers (POBs)
- During the period 2010 – 2015, Leonora faced the world head-on in the world of work where she rose from being a Hostess at Beira Altar Restaurant and then a Recruiter at Techies IT Recruitment and then worked as a Store Assistant and ended as a Branch Manager at Wimpole Street Interiors.
- The HIV and TB activist journey for Leonora started at MSF (Doctors Without Borders) between 2007 – 2009 where she was an Adherence Volunteer. In this role, she facilitated support groups in Alexandra Healthcare and University Clinic to support people living with HIV to adhere to antiretroviral treatment.
Issued by: Mabalane Mfundisi – Executive Director (Show Me Your Number)
For more information, contact: Palesa Komane 0813733109