Candy Malherbe

Candy was born in 1928 in Maryland, U.S.A. Her maiden name was Canby and she was named Catherine Vertrees, usually called Vertrees by her family. She met her husband, Paul Malherbe, when he was studying Chemical Engineering at M.I.T. They married and she returned with him to South Africa in 1952. She immediately embraced his family and his country. Paul’s father, Dr E.G. Malherbe, was a liberal highly regarded educationist and through her in-laws in Durban she was introduced to South Africans of substance, black and white. This sparked her interest in South African politics and the injustices of apartheid, an interest which naturally drew her later to the Black Sash.
In 1957 she was very badly struck by polio – a young married woman with two small children – Paul and Louise. An uncle with medical connections arranged for her to be flown to the U.S. for treatment, and the story goes that she left saying, “I’ll come back walking.” She did, but on crutches, and sometimes bent almost double. She had tremendous courage always – she was never sorry for herself and, with her sense of humour and a gift for friendship, she lived a full and busy life. In the Black Sash she was a very active member of the Wynberg Branch and its chair at one time, and very often hosted meetings at her house in Kenilworth and then in Constantia. Famously, a fundraising ‘fashion’ show was very successfully held in the courtyard of their Constantia home! She was on the Regional Council, and her knowledge and skills were greatly appreciated there. She also played a vital role as a member of the editorial committee of the organisation’s magazine SASH from 1987 until its final issue in 1995, working particularly with Sarah-Anne Raynham and often serving as its editor.
It is difficult to convey the depths and strengths that Candy possessed–she was a natural academic and many people have paid tribute to the contribution she made to the work of the History Department ay U.C.T. While working there she co-authored two books – The Bushmen of Southern Africa and The Cape Herders: A History of the Khoikhoi of Southern Africa.
After her husband Paul died – tragically, he drowned while sailing alone at Pringle Bay – she bought a bright, single-storeyed house in Newlands. She very much enjoyed the freedom of driving her own car and she did not allow her disabilities to prevent her from doing anything she wanted to do. For instance, she regularly drove herself to the Baxter and, having arranged to be met with a wheelchair; she could attend a concert or watch a play.
It was in her late eighties that she decided that she would not be able to manage alone indefinitely. With typical resolve she sold her house, disposed of most of her possessions, and moved with her computer into a single room at Summerley Court, with ‘Assisted Living’. In her wheelchair she was able to move out of the frail-care section to be among the other residents. She made friends
and took part in whichever of the activities appealed to her. Then in 2020, came the dread years of Covid, a very lonely time for many people. Although Candy was a serious reader, but restricted to her single room, she really suffered from the lack of the stimulus of visiting friends. Her health gradually deteriorated. Although she improved once restrictions were lifted, that was for a short respite, and she became increasingly frail. Candy died on 26 June, 2022.
We miss an inspirational human being.