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13 June 2022 Media Release: GRDM Council and Staff mourns the sudden passing of an iron lady, Alderlady Mercia Draghoender

Media Release: GRDM Council and Staff mourn the sudden passing of an iron lady, Alderlady Mercia Draghoender

For Immediate Release
13 June 2022

Since Saturday evening, 11 June 2022, messages of condolences to the family of Alderlady (Ald.) Mercia Draghoender from Councillors and staff at Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) were received. This happened moments after the news broke about Ald. Draghoender’s sudden passing at the George Provincial Hospital. She turned 64 years old (4) months ago in February.

Described by many councillors as a vibrant, outspoken and a colleague of colours, Mercia served the GRDM Council as a Proportional Representative for Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) since the new Council was inaugurated on 25 November 2021. The inauguration was held at the Civic Hall in George. Over her years in politics, she held various top leadership positions at George Municipality over the past 20 years and helped establish various structures in the parties she formed part of over her political career.

After being informed about the shocking news, various Councillors reflected on memorable moments shared with Ald. Draghoender throughout their time with her. Executive Mayor, Ald Memory Booysen remembers Ald. Draghoeder, as much more than just a politician. Mayor Booysen said: “With her not being here anymore, our laughter will be dampened in the GRDM Council”. Colleagues who worked with her on a daily basis say that she had a brilliant memory, often reciting specific dates and pages where specific mention was made about Council items.

Speaker of the Council, Ald. Georlene Wolmarans, described Ald. Draghoender as a dynamic woman, and a dedicated servant of the community who was loved and respected by the people. When sharing her history and their shared background, she said: “I got to know Ald. Draghoender since our time as members of the former Independent Democrats.  We started engaging a lot more again in November 2021 as Councillors of GRDM and ever since she used every opportunity to make her voice heard. I will miss how she addressed me as ‘Honourable Speaker’, but most importantly I will miss her as Councillor of GRDM”.

The President of the political party PBI, to which she was a serving member, Ald Virgill Gericke said that the PBI was deeply shocked when they were informed about the sudden passing of Ald. Draghoender. He extended his sincerest words of comfort to her family, friends and all colleagues. When describing the calibre of person she was, he said: “She has been an inspiration to many of us and a frontliner in the fight for a better life for all people. Her political career was dedicated to serving the poor, vulnerable and marginalised sections of our community. She leaves behind a powerful legacy of dedicated service and excellence in Local Government. History will remember her as a powerful fighter and activist for the rights of women and children”. Adding to these words Ald Gericke said that the PBI is thankful to her family for gracing them with her servant-hood and deep knowledge of Local Government. “She was indeed a library of knowledge and history. We greet a gallant and courageous fighter.  Rest well our dearest sister. The struggle for a just and equal society shall continue. Hamba kahle”.

Chief Whips from various political parties also shared words of comfort with the family, friends and her colleagues.  Cllr Daniel Acker from the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) said: “We will miss all her chats and sayings during our meetings and gatherings. May God strengthen her family during the time of bereavement”.  Chief Whip of the African National Congress (ANC), Cllr Clodia Lichaba, said: “I am shocked – my deepest condolences to her family. You will be greatly missed. Rest in peace Ald. Draghoender.”  Cllr Jan Cornelius, extended words of comfort to Cllr Draghoenders family and the community she served and he added: “Her passing is a huge loss, may her soul rest in peace”. Cllr Jan Cornelius is the Chief Whip of ICOSA (Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa).

Draghoender leaves behind a son, daughters and two grandchildren, and many people whose lives she’s impacted throughout her life.

GRDM will cherish its memories shared with Ald. Draghoender in the Council Chambers and on various other platforms.