The community of Pelican Park is mourning the loss of activist and community leader Yushra Adams, who died of tuberculosis on Monday September 23 at the age of 45.
Originally from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, Ms Adams ran a soup kitchen from her home in Pelican Park and was involved in various other community projects.
She founded Women Can Do It, an organisation to fight for women’s rights and was the community liaison officer at Pelican Park clinic – which officially opened a few days after she died.
The unemployed mother of five also raised abandoned children up until she became ill.
Her eldest son, Ibanez Stuurman, said his mother’s soup kitchen, which was run from her house every Wednesday, was put on hold when she became ill a few months ago.
“Then she had to stop but would have continued if she could. She was a good mother, not only for me and my siblings but for the broader community. She always went above and beyond for anyone who came knocking at her door – she helped in any way she could,” he said.
Ms Adams was a motivational speaker and often told the story of how she escaped an abusive relationship at women’s gatherings and programmes during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
She first moved to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape after her partner set her alight in front of her children in 2008 and lived in Zille-Reign Heights in Parkwood (‘Battling violence, Southern Mail, November 30, 2016).
She later moved to Pelican Park.
She was beaten almost daily by the father of her children for over 18 years but came to Cape Town to seek a better life for her and her children. She then became involved in women’s empowerment organisations and started her activism.
Raazia Isaac said the community has lost a great woman.
“She was very outspoken and often bumped heads with a lot of people but she stood up for what she believed in. She had the soup kitchen, a reading group for children who struggled at school and worked at the Pelican Park clinic.
“She was always on hand to support fire victims or anyone who needed some assistance. She had very little but she took that little bit and spread it as far as she could. She struggled, emotionally and financially and she did not have an easy life, but despite this she helped others,” said Ms Isaac.
A vigil and memorial service for Ms Adams was held last week in Pelican Park.
Tributes have been pouring in for her.
ANC Member of Parliament Hishaam Mohamed said she was a strong leader who always stood up for the poorest community of Parkwood and surrounding areas.
Niyaaz Hakim said: “You stood tall until the end for your community. Not many people know it, but she had a passion for political education for youth. She believed strongly that now is the time to mould the youth so that good can live on forever.”
Community leader Keith Blake, who helped Ms Adams with sponsorship for her soup kitchen, said she was a true hero for her community.
“She approached me and wanted to do something more for her community. We then got sponsorship for her soup kitchen and she was always ready to help where she could,” said Mr Blake.
Davine Angela Cloete said: “We lost a sister, feminist activist and a great community leader. Someone who fought the patriarchal systems and oppression. May her soul rest in peace.”
Soraya Mentoor said Ms Adams was a great fighter. “Always taking up struggles for those who couldn’t. Speaking for those whose voices could not reach the platforms and spaces you so passionately claimed and owned. Hamba Kahle comrade,” she said.
Puleng Mpokotho said Ms Adams was one of the bravest, strongest and smartest women he knew.
“She spoke fearlessly on behalf of vulnerable women in her community and I know if she had more time she was going to impact the lives of many more across South Africa. I’m truly saddened and shocked by her passing. May your brave spirit rest in peace, Yushra,” he said.
Ms Adams will be buried on Saturday October 5.