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Cape Town honours its outstanding citizens

by Martin Pollack
on 16 Apr 2009
City of Cape Town
City of Cape Town

In the largest civic awards ceremony ever hosted by the City of Cape Town, 42 exceptional individuals and organisations were honoured at a prestigious ceremony on Thursday, April 16, 2009.

"Honouring citizens for outstanding contributions to their community has been a longstanding tradition in many cities around the world," said Mayor Helen Zille.

"In the past three years we have been working to revive this tradition in Cape Town, starting with a small ceremony in October 2006 to thank several individuals from the legal fraternity for their extraordinary efforts, free of charge, to help a Cape Town family recover ownership of their grandmother's house after it was invaded and illegally transferred into the invader's name. Since then we have held further ceremonies, and the encouragement that they have given the individuals and communities involved convinced us to create a larger event this year.

I would like to congratulate this year's winners, and thank them for their valued contributions to making Cape Town a great city," said the Mayor.

The three individuals chosen to sign the Civic Honours Book are Olympic champion swimmer, Natalie du Toit; District Six community leader, Tahir Levy; and South Africa's youngest billionaire, Mark Shuttleworth.

The Freedom of Entry has been granted to the Air Force Base Ysterplaat, and 9 SA Infantry Battalion, better known as the Cape Corps.

AFB Ysterplaat, whose association with the city spans 80 years, provides vital aerial support to the City of Cape Town, Provincial Government, SA Police Service, National Sea Rescue Institute and Wilderness Search and Rescue.

"During 2008 alone, 22 Squadron flew 25 fire-fighting missions, recovered ten individuals in four mountain rescue missions, and performed three medical evacuations," says Dirk Smit, Speaker of the City of Cape Town.

The legendary Cape Corps, which was raised by the Dutch East India Company in 1781, has a long and distinguished military heritage. In more than two centuries, the battalion has seen action in the battles of Muizenberg and Blaauwberg, in France, East Africa, Palestine, North Africa and Italy.

"This year a record total of 21 outstanding civilians were nominated for the Mayor's Medal, which was awarded at the ceremony," said Smit.

They are Philip Bam, Dawn Hare, Herbert Hirsch, Ben Rabinowitz, Frank Wygold, Heather Tager, Dr Rocco Hough, Pastor Aaron Makili, Pastor John Thomas, the Chaeli Campaign, the Niall Mellon Township Trust, Jessica Pengelly, Douglas Dyers, Rushdi Magiet, Paul Saville, Clive van Ryneveld, Ilse Hayes, Hilton Langenhoven, Riaan Nel, Fanie van der Merwe and Ernst van Dyk.

"These nominees were chosen for their exceptional achievement in the fields of sport, leadership and community service," said Smit.

The title of Aldermen will be conferred on 16 councillors, namely Helen Zille, Tozama Bevu, Koos Bredenhand, Lewis Dunn, Nicki Holderness, Claude Ipser, Arthur Jacobs, Gisela Jespersen, Clive Justus, Ian Neilson, Felicity Purchase, Neil Ross, Louwtjie Rothman, Belinda Walker, Brian Watkyns and Dirk Smit.

This title is awarded to councillors who have served the City Council with honour and distinction for 20 years or more.


Philip Bam, Former councillor for Grassy Park, who is deeply involved in support for the visually impaired, through the League of Friends of the Blind.

Dawn Hare, Chairperson of the Fish Hoek-Kommetjie-Noordhoek Welfare Association, who has dedicated her life to helping people with disabilities.

Herbert Hirsch, Retired Sea Point resident, who has dedicated much of his life to community matters particularly from an economic development perspective.

Ben Rabinowitz, Lawyer and businessman, who embodies the spirit of altruism and uses his formidable legal knowledge to fight worthy causes.

Frank Wygold, Physicist and engineer, who has dedicated his energy in environmental and life-skills education, such as the centre for entrepreneurial skills at the Brooklyn Chest Hospital.

Heather Tager, Chief Operations Officer of the Sea Point City Improvement District and Chairperson of the Sea Point Community Police Forum.

Dr Rocco Hough, Minister of the Dutch Reformed Church Congregation for the Deaf, who has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of disabled people in Bellville, especially for those with hearing impairments.

Pastor Aaron Makili, President of the Great Commission Ministers' Network and founder of the Church of Christ Ministry which cares for orphans and others in need such as the victims of the xenophobia crisis in 2008.

Pastor John Thomas, Pastor of the Fish Hoek Baptist Church, who founded the Living Hope HIV/Aids Community Centre, Living Grace to help the destitute in Muizenberg, and Living Way which focuses on training and job creation.

The Chaeli Campaign, A non-profit organisation founded by the Mycroft sisters to help other children with disabilities.

The Niall Mellon Township Trust, Started by Irish property developer, Niall Mellon, the trust is the largest charity provider of social homes in South Africa, having built 11 000 homes in seven years.

Jessica Pengelly, The Western Cape's teenage swimming star who is ranked seventh in the world for the 400m individual medley.

Douglas Dyers, Foremost rugby player, coach and administrator who has devoted most of his life to the development and integration of the sport.

Rushdi Magiet, One of South Africa's best known cricket personalities who has been involved in establishing 12 soup kitchens across the Cape Flats which feed 4 000 people a week.

Paul Saville, A Western Cape cricket legend who for many years has been actively engaged in assisting the community with housing, legal and civic problems.

Clive van Ryneveld, A former advocate, and current chairman of the John Passmore Trust, which works to develop young black cricketers, and promote sport in the townships.

Ilse Hayes, A visually impaired athlete, who scored a prestigious gold at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing and a silver medal in the 100m final sprint event.

Hilton Langenhoven, A visually impaired Paralympic all-rounder who won three gold medals at the Beijing Summer Paralympics.

Riaan Nel, a Paralympic cyclist with cerebral palsy who won one the three silver medals achieved by the South African team at the Beijing Paralympics.

Fanie van der Merwe, South Africa's foremost Paralympian sprinter who has cerebral palsy. He achieved a gold medal at the Beijing Summer Paralympics in 2008.

Ernst van Dyk, One of the world's premier wheelchair racers, having won more Boston Marathons than any other male wheelchair athlete, and current world record holder for the men's wheelchair marathon.

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