Jeanie Noel

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Biographical information

First name: 
Jeanie
Last name: 
Noel
Location of birth: 
Durban

Jeanie Noel was born in Durban as one of twelve children, however her family was fortunate enough to own property, something that was not common in coloured communities at the time. She attended St. Theresa, a catholic primary school and when she reached high school she realized that all were not equal in South Africa. Her school that had only white teachers had employed a coloured teacher but that teacher was not allowed to have lunch with the other teachers in the staff room. To add to this, she and her family were forced to leave their family home when the Group areas act came into effect, something that she believes to have sent her father to an early grave as he then lost all that had mattered to him.

Jeannie then became actively involved with underground work for the African National Congress, organizing safe houses for comrades who were in hiding. In 1975 she started community work, organizing and mobilizing women, however she was arrested under section 10 and was sent to the Fort prison in Johanessburg. In jail she was put in the same cell as with the likes of Winnie Mandela and Fatima Meer, company that made her even more committed that she ever was before when she was finally released. During the time of her arrest, Jeanie had been working as a library assistant for the Durban City Council who refused to pay her for the time that she had been arrested. After the City Council, she went to work at the Durban City Hall and this is where she again got involved with trade unions.

In 1984, after dealing with racism on a regular basis, Jeanie finally left her work in the City Hall and started her own catering project. She from then on maintained herself by catering for union meetings and congresses. Jeanie currently manages a community Youth Hostel that was established with the effort of women.

Last updated : 08-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011