Leader dies after battling short illness

Wilfred Alcock addresses the masses at Masjudul-Quds.

Communities across the Cape Flats were saddened by the death of Athlone resident, community leader, and frontrunner for peace, Wilfred Alcock, who died after battling a short illness.

He was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital on Saturday January 18, but his body eventually shut down on Thursday January 23 and he died. He was 59 and would have turned 60 in September.

Over the years Mr Alcock had survived numerous heart-attacks and strokes. He played a leading role in the Cape Flats Interfaith Declaration, which was formed as a response to the escalating violence on the Cape Flats. It was adopted at a public meeting held at the Joseph Stone Auditorium last year as communities and police battled to get gang violence under control.

He was at the forefront of various peace gatherings, prayer meetings, and conflict resolution gatherings across the Cape Flats as he called for an end to the scourge of killings, rapes, and drugs, among other issues. He believed that the Cape Flats could be a place of peace and happiness if everyone stood together and tried to make a change.

Faiez Jacobs, member of Parliament for the African National Congress (ANC) Athlone, said Mr Alcock had been a people’s person who served the community.

“He was a deeply religious activist for peace, as well as one who believed that our people deserve to enjoy all the fruits of political freedom. For him, freedom also meant economic freedom, better living conditions, jobs and a life free of crime.

“That is the fight that he has dedicated his life to. I have lost a true friend and shall miss him. My thoughts and condolences are with Sandra and their children. The Cape Flats mourns a gentle hero, a warrior for peace.”

In May last year he founded and established the Service and Allied Workers’ Union of South Africa (SAWUSA), also as an attempt to stop gang violence across the Cape Flats, which he was the president of.

Ex-member and one of the founders of SAWUSA, Gerard Hoffmeester, who shared a 30-year friendship with Mr Alcock, said he would miss his mentor and “calm-in-the-storm” friend.

He said they met back when Mr Hoffmeester was shop steward of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union and Mr Alcock the chairperson, whom he described as a tactful, passionate, loving, carefree person who always had a smile on his face and a joke to tell.

“During negotiations he was steadfast and was always the calm in the storm when things got heated. He was my mentor although I was older than him. He taught me so much and he was the most patient person. I don’t remember him ever getting angry at anything,” said Mr Hoffmeester.

Spokesman for the ANC, Dennis Cruywagen, described him as a tolerant man who respected different religions and was the bridge between Muslims and Christians. He said Mr Alcock always had the interest of the community at heart.

“He believed that society could be a better place. He wanted us to live in peace and he was a passionate and caring person,” he said.

Facebookers sent their condolences to the family. Fazlin Fransman Taliep said: “My heart is so disturbed by the news of your passing! You always found a way of pushing others forward, of empowering them and never seeking the limelight for yourself! You were a comrade and a friend. Go well! Hamba Kahle!”

Brian Pretorius said: “Hamba Kahle, Comrade Wilfred. The Spear has fallen. You served your community and country without fear or favour. RIP my dear friend. May the martyrs welcome you into paradise and the angels lead you to Abraham’s side and be seated at the feet of God our Father. Condolences to comrades Brian, Cecelia and the rest of his family.”

Wilfred Alcock is survived by his wife of 37 years, Sandra, their three children, and nine grandchildren.