Community honoured at civic awards

Myrtle Christian, 87, was among those honoured at the Sub-council 17 civic awards. Here she receives her certificate of recognition from Ward 47 councillor Antonio van der Rheede and, left, Sub-council 17 chairman George March.

A man who works tirelessly in the park, the auntie who cooks many pots of food for the needy, a human rights activist, and even someone who escorts people by foot so they can arrive at work safely – these are just some of the people honoured at the Sub-council 17 civic awards.

The event, at the Gatesville hall on Thursday July 14, honoured people in three categories – ward committee members, community workers and organisations, and City of Cape Town staff.

Ward 47 had the most nominations, with 28 people given recognition for the work they do in Hanover Park.

Unlike the other award recipients, all those honoured in Ward 47 (Hanover Park), had been nominated by councillor Antonio van der Rheede.

The oldest of the recipients, Myrtle Christian, 87, was honoured for her life-long activism.

Mr Van der Rheede described Ms Christian as a woman who had dedicated her life to fighting any form of discrimination, including apartheid.

Before handing the certificate of appreciation to her, Mr Van der Rheede said: “Ms Christian was one of the first people to organise a march, in 1986, against drugs and gangsterism in Hanover Park. She was the first health committee chairperson at the day hospital, and started the first soup kitchen at the day hospital for needy people. Ms Christian was a board member of the Older Persons’ Forum and is still currently a committee member.

“She attended all forum meetings in Athlone and was the president of the Dove Club in Kensington. She was also the president elect of the Dove Club SA. Ms Christian has been the chairperson of the GH Starck centre for the past 30 years. She started out as a house mother, and stayed on and is now a resident.

“She was also an organiser of the Shawco Seniors’ Club for 12 years, has addressed Parliament, still does public lectures with American exchange students and was responsible for the building of a bridge over Jakes Gerwel Drive, as people were getting killed crossing that road to get to the day hospital.”

When Ms Christian walked – with an aid – towards the front to accept her award, she was greeted with a standing ovation.

Mr Van der Rheede said despite the gang violence and other social ills in Hanover Park, he believes the area “would be far worse off if we didn’t have the dedicated people we have that wants to make a difference”.

Others honoured in Ward 47, include musician Jonathan Rubain, Mount View High principal Archie Benjamin and the Hanover Park Civic Association.

Naboweya Johnson and Fowzia Williams were the only two award recipients from Ward 46. Ms Williams’s late mother, Mareldia Kennedy, was honoured posthumously for her work among the elderly and the neighbourhood watch.

Ms Williams herself, is involved with the Pinati Estate Community Civic Association’s (PECCA’s) neighbourhood watch. She escorts (by foot) people walking to work who have to pass known hot spots for robberies.

Ms Johnson runs the Young and Old feeding scheme.