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Major General (Maj Gen) Jackie Refiloe Sedibe

The Order of Mendi for Bravery in

Major General (Maj Gen) Jackie Refiloe Sedibe Awarded for:
Her excellent contribution to the struggle for freedom and courage in joining Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). She fought for the liberation of our people and selflessly sacrificed her time to ensure that all South Africans live as equals.
Profile of Major General (Maj Gen) Jackie Refiloe Sedibe

Maj Gen Jackie Refiloe Sedibe was born in 1945 in White River, Mpumalanga, to a domestic worker mother and her father worked in Johannesburg. She lived with a maternal uncle, Ben Sedibe, in Barber ton, who was an African National Congress (ANC) activist and had a huge influence on her. He became her role model and she took his surname.

She began to understand that apartheid was an evil system that should be fought to the end. She was one of the earliest recruits to join the military wing of the ANC. Although the early formation of MK in 1961 may have comprised mainly men, women were also among the earliest trainees, including Maj Gen Sedibe.

In 1964, aged 17, Maj Gen Sedibe was active as a signals operator specialising in clandestine radio communications. Her responsibilities included linking MK operatives in the frontline states and South Africa. She was sent to the then Soviet Union for training at the Odessa Infantry Academy, where her aptitude for signals led to her being fast-tracked for advanced training in Moscow, where she acquired invaluable skills. She was one of three women chosen for the year-long programme. One of her first jobs during her stint in Tanzania was the Wankie Operation through the then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1967-1968.

Not only did she fight for the liberation of all South Africans but she also made it clear that women had a role to play in the military. Maj Gen Sedibe believed in hard work and proving her worth through perseverance, with no expectation of being treated with favour for being a woman.