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17 April 2024 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Mourns the Passing of Former Speaker, Alderman Barnie Groenewald

Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality Mourns the Passing of Former Speaker, Alderman Barnie Groenewald

17 April 2024

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is deeply saddened by the passing of its former Speaker, Alderman Barend (Barnie) Groenewald, who served from 2016 to 2021. Alderman Groenewald passed away earlier today, 17 April 2024.

After he was informed of the passing of Ald. Groenewald, GRDM Executive Mayor, Ald. Memory Booysen had the following words to share: “It is with great sorrow that we bid farewell to Alderman Barnie Groenewald, a cherished colleague and former speaker of our Council. I had the privilege of working closely with Barnie for five years, during which his presence was a cornerstone of both leadership and stability. Barnie had a unique ability to balance the intricacies of politics with the demands of administration, ensuring that our council’s decisions always reflected the best interests of the community we serve. His passing is a tremendous loss for all of us at the GRDM. My thoughts and prayers are with his beloved family during this difficult time. We mourn together with them and honour Barnie’s enduring legacy in our hearts and through our continued dedication to the people of the Garden Route.”

Alderman Groenewald, who married Daleen in 2012, is survived by her, his son, Bern, and two grandchildren, Zarah and Nielen. His deep passion for people and community service was evident throughout his career and life. He lived by the motto, “do unto others, what you want others to do unto you” and believed in the value of every individual, saying, “I am what I am because of others.”

His political career was marked by significant contributions and roles, starting as a Town Clerk at the Ikageng Town Council in 1983 and later serving in various capacities including as the City Secretary and Acting Director of Corporate Services. He also held significant positions at the Potchefstroom Town Council and worked with the Independent Electoral Commission as a Municipal Electoral Officer for over a decade. His final professional role was with the George Municipality, where he served on the Disciplinary Council.

During his tenure as Speaker, Alderman Groenewald was known for promoting constructive debate within the council, always with the goal of improving the lives of the community. His leadership was instrumental in ensuring care and support for councillors and municipal staff, helping them fulfill their roles effectively.

Alderman Groenewald was inspired by figures like Nelson Mandela and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., drawing on their visions to fuel his own work in politics and community service. He often reflected on the poem “Invictus” by William Ernest Henley, particularly resonating with the lines, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul,” which guided his public service.

His educational contributions were also notable, as he facilitated courses in Local Government Law and Governance Administration at Nelson Mandela University, impacting and shaping future leaders.

The Garden Route District Municipality extends its heartfelt condolences to Alderman Groenewald’s family, friends, and all who were touched by his remarkable life and career. We mourn the loss of a true community pillar and a beacon of moral and civic virtue.