The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) and Sisonke, the National Movement of Sex Workers, are profoundly sad to announce that Angeline De Bruin (“Angie); a former SWEAT paralegal and Peer Educator has died. Our sincerest condolences are extended to her family and many friends at this devastating time. For most of us, Angie was more than a former colleague – she was family. We were aware of Angie’s health struggles the last few years, but her passing is still incredibly sad and painful. As the news of her death spread among former colleagues, friends and the sex worker community yesterday, every single person had stories and anecdotes of Angie – how she always willing to help, to listen, to give, her activism and passion, her fashion, her laugh and joyfulness.
Angie was among the very first group of sex workers that came to SWEAT and joined Creative Spaces. She worked as a paralegal and later became a Peer Educator. Her association with SWEAT and Sisonke spanned decades and in that time she became a respected and much loved leader in the struggles for the rights of her fellow sex workers in South Africa.
She was incredibly brave – among the first group of women who publicly and proudly said she was a sex worker; and part of the first sex worker march to Parliament. Angie’s activism around lobbying, organising and mobilising police officials, health care practitioners and other public sector workers on the needs of sex workers is well publicised. She was outspoken on police brutality and harassment.
We have a lost a giant.
Angie retired from SWEAT in 2018 and spoke of the desire for a less stressful and busy life but activism was in her blood. Almost the first thing she did upon retiring was to start organising and working with sex workers in her community. The sex worker community was more than just colleagues for Angie – they were her family.
After a difficult 2019 in terms of her health, incredibly she was able to come back to the organisation and by the end of November she was able to re-join and participate in the Mothers for the Future (M4F) and Feminist Groups. She was so grateful to be back and to be able to participate and she attended the first and only Feminist Group we had for this year before the groups were suspended because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Angie was kind and giving to a fault. She was wise, but she was also very funny and always had a story to share in any space that would have colleagues either laughing or crying and sometimes both.
Angie was a strong woman – a feminist and a comrade. Her life was not easy, but she handled challenges that would have brought most of us to our knees with incredible grace. We will miss her. Our lives are both richer for having to got know and love her, but also poorer for having lost her.
RIP Angie. Note: The current situation limits our ability to mourn for and remember Angie as we would like to but we will hold a memorial as soon as it is possible and details will be shared closer to the time.