Muriel George broke barriers for women

Pastor Muriel George, a Hanover Park activist, died on Friday January 7.

The Hanover Park community is mourning the death of activist and pastor Muriel George, 72, who succumbed to Covid-19.

Tributes have been pouring in from far and wide since her death on Friday January 7, with many saying she will be remembered for her calm demeanour, her principles and the love she had for all.

Ms George was very active in her community and was the founding chairperson of the Hanover Park Women’s Development Forum, which was the umbrella body for 18 organisations in the area.

Clint Abrahams, who worked closely with Ms George as an “unofficial” administrator for the development forum, said she had been a strong and powerful woman.

“During my time as the administrator of the Hanover Park Women’s Development Forum, I had the privilege and experience of seeing Ms George live out the ideals of the forum. In the more than 18 years I served her in that capacity, I witnessed how she broke down barriers that were meant to box women into traditional roles.

“She was resilient, tough and wise when dealing with issues that affect women, and she stood back for nothing when trying to empower women. She often told me, ‘Strength and power are not only attributes reserved for men but also for women, who understand, they are equal and worthy. Those women change the world,’” Mr Abrahams said.

Under the leadership of Ms George, the Hanover Park Women’s Development Forum became a leading player in the City of Cape Town’s then Multi-Sectoral Action Team (MSAT), the community police forum, the ward committee forum and Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU), among others. She was well respected and equally adored by her peers and the people she served.

Under her leadership, the forum hosted an annual Women’s Day event, winter and summer holiday programmes with the Department of Community Safety, the seniors club, sport festivals, career exhibitions, feeding programmes and capacity-building workshops.

“I learnt so much from her about forgiveness, patience, grace, professionalism, compassion, and love,” Mr Abrahams said. “She did not only teach these, she lived it out daily.

“She was humble and great at the same time, compassionate and brave, friendly and extremely private. She could preach and teach. Her legacy of hard work, commitment, and excellence will live on in my life, the Hanover Park Women’s Development Forum and the countless lives that she has touched and changed.”

Bishop Randall van Nelson, a former International Pentecostal Holiness Church conference leader, said Ms George had been passionate about women and girls.

“Her teachings and guidance in these areas of ministry and also to the ministers’ wives was done in excellence,” he said.

“Reverend Muriel was instrumental in many of our women going to Cape Bible Training Centre – not only because she was a lecturer – but she encouraged and motivated women of all races to go learn as much as they can. Her involvement with women stretched far and wide.

“Reverend Muriel had her own sewing-and-clothing business and even travelled overseas a few times. These travels never interfered with her diligence in serving or spearheading projects, as she kept abreast of everything that was happening around her.

“In the Pentecostal Holiness Church, Reverend Muriel served as a board member, treasurer, assistant director and director. She was a mentor, teacher, exhorter, mother, friend and confidante. Everything was done in excellence and she passed on as much of her wisdom and knowledge to those who wished to learn from her.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, her daughter, Sharon George, said their mother had believed in the principle of “starting children off in the way they should go, and even when they are old, they will not turn from it”.

She added: “She was a strict mother who taught us the values like honesty, kindness, generosity, putting others before yourself, faith in God and love for all.

“We remember that she always worked, whether as a machinist in her own business, as a pastor in the Pentecostal Holiness Church or as an activist in the Hanover Park community. She was always busy. She had a remarkable energy and passion for everything that she did. She demanded excellence and complete dedication to any task.”

The family thanked the Pentecostal Holiness Church, the Hanover Park Women’s Development Forum, community leaders, activists, organisations and individuals for their support.

“Even while we are sad now, we know that her legacy will continue to live,” Sharon said.