Stalwart fondly remembered

Maria Matthews from the Flamingo informal settlement has been remembered as a community stalwart.

Maria Matthews, better known as Auntie Marie, was a community stalwart, someone residents could offload to, a woman who put others before herself, say those who knew her.

The 68-year-old resident of Flamingo informal settlement died on June 19.

Ms Matthews moved to the community from Mitchell’s Plain 15 years ago and became a liaison between residents and ward councillors, in a fight for better living conditions and equality.

Lansdowne ward councillor Mark Kleinschmidt described Ms Matthews as a community person, someone who looked out for others and gave a voice to the voiceless.

She was also the spokeswoman of the Flamingo Informal Settlement’s Residents’ Forum and helped to start a seniors’ group.

“She didn’t want to live anywhere else even after numerous efforts from her children. She wanted to be amongst the community,” Mr Kleinschmidt said.

“She was an informal social worker, lending a shoulder to cry on and people would offload onto her. She will be remembered for always being honest, speaking the truth, and being a strong, determined woman.”

Resident Lenrika Dekoker said Ms Matthews had motivated others to do better and do what they were passionate about.

“All of us are missing her. We will always remember her for her friendliness, willingness to help the next person and straightforwardness.”

Ms Matthews’s son, Jonathan Jacobs, said: “I constantly have to remind myself that she is gone. It’s been a great difficulty for us but we are thankful for the life that she’s had.

“She was really a people’s person, someone who loved helping the marginalised.”

Ms Matthews is survived by her seven children as well as 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.