We pay tribute to our beloved colleague, Leonie Sybeth Caroline

1958-2013

Black Sash Trust Regional Manager, Western Cape from 2001 - 2013

Dearest Leonie

You joined our Black Sash family just over a decade ago. You saw our organisation through many incarnations as it changed direction, strategy and size.

You were one of a kind - unique, colourful, humorous, direct, complex, strong-willed and compassionate; a leader in your own right. Your multiple gifts and talents served others - your family and community in local and global contexts - and the greater public good.

We have come to know and respect you as a fierce and unflinching fighter for human and socio economic rights - particularly for the children, the poor and vulnerable sectors of our society.

We note your tireless efforts to advance the interests of under-protected workers, including those on farms, in domestic and precarious employment as well as the unemployed who had no social protection. Your human rights actions encompassed protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees.

We particularly acknowledge your special passion for the realisation of women’s rights.  

Your faith and trust in the agency of ordinary citizens was unquestionable. You never shied away from opportunities to hold government officials accountable and remind them of their mandate.

You have capacitated and nurtured many community leaders and paralegals in the not-for-profit sector. And under your tutelage many local and international interns blossomed and discovered their direction and calling.

We watched, in 2013, how you struggled, with great courage and humour, as the cancer tightened its grip on your body. We hope you took comfort in our words, prayers, supportive gestures and our visits to you. Your work among us is completed. We love you dearly but are relieved that you have moved to another realm without medication, scans, therapies and pain.

We have sent word to the ancestors to welcome you into their fold. We hope that you will hold a special portfolio in your next life to help advance our work. You will be glad to know that Madiba will be joining you shortly.

Our lives are richer and more textured for having walked our respective journeys with you. We will miss your incredible institutional memory.

As this community assembles here today, we bid you farewell and pass forward your rich legacy to Lindy, Hilliard (jnr) and Kelly Nyman to continue and pass to the next generation.

Go in peace ....

Lynette Maart, on behalf of the Black Sash

 

Tribute paid by Mary Burton at Leonie's funeral service

It is a great privilege to pay tribute to Leonie today on behalf of the trustees and the staff, past and present, of the Black Sash.   She was the Western Cape Regional Manager of the Black Sash, and the whole organisation feels a deep sense of loss.

There are beautiful photographs of her, and many, many messages circulating among her colleagues and on our website. People clearly have wonderful memories of working with this greatly respected, strong, and principled fighter for social justice. She was a vocal champion of women; a defender of the rights of children; a supporter of rural people and their quest for a better life.

There are strong threads running through the messages – we all remember her sense of humour, and many have spoken of her kindness and generosity. She was a wonderful person full of laughter and encouragement. She was never too busy for anyone, nor for a joke. As one friend described her, she was a “charming, jolly, talkative, loud and cheerful person”.

Yet there was more to her than the warmth and the humour. She was a person of great integrity, indeed a “mountain of integrity and conviction” as one description portrays her, and she did not hesitate to speak out when she thought it necessary. One of the trustees remembers her spirited interventions at the difficult meetings we had when having to decide on the future of the Black Sash, and says she was “honest and to the point... difficult but genuine”.

It was that honesty and integrity which people admired in Leonie. She held onto her principles, and was passionate about her work and the people she sought to serve. We have respected her robust and straightforward way of addressing issues, and take pride in the decades of her dedication to the struggle to make human rights real.

Leonie came to the Black Sash after many years in trade union work, and her experience and knowledge stood her in good stead. She was connected to an astonishing number of people all over the province, and had an extensive network of colleagues. Those of our trustees who also have trade union backgrounds have paid tribute to a committed and powerful woman who fought for human rights for all.

Most of all, when I remember Leonie, I find myself thinking about her impact on the many young interns who come to work with the Black Sash from many different parts of the world. One would come into the office and find Leonie surrounded by an eager group learning the ins and outs of social protection and the work required to realise social and economic justice. Her institutional knowledge will be greatly missed. Warm and sad messages have come in from so many of these interns, and not only from them, but even from a mother, or a boyfriend, who have seen the effect Leonie had on each cohort of temporary additions to the Black Sash team. This contact has meant that her teaching and example has been spread through many countries and she will never be forgotten. “The respect she generated will be a lasting testament”.

We thank her family for the support they gave her, and we know that often she was very busy when they might have wanted to have more of her time. The Black Sash is thankful for the generosity with which they shared her, and for those who helped her with the task of caring for her children. She was immensely proud of them, and we extend our deep condolences to them and to her husband and wider family.

At this time in the history of our country, I would like to conclude with words written by the late Nelson Mandela:

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity”.

Leonie, too, did what she considered to be her duty to her people and her country. May she rest in peace.

Siyabulela Leonie, ulale ngoxolo.

Mary Burton - 7 December 2013

A memorial for Leonie Caroline was arranged by the Black Sash at Community House, Salt River on Thursday 12 December. Leonie's funeral service took place in Bredasdorp on Saturday, 7 December at the Anglican Church of the Holy Spirit.

TRIBUTES

Our dearest colleague, Leonie Caroline Nyman, passed away on Saturday, 30th November after an illness bravely borne. There are no words to describe our combined grief at this time, but through the tears there are very fond and vivid memories of a woman that each of us held dear to our hearts.

Leonie will be remembered as a committed human rights activist that joined the Black Sash as the Regional Manager of the Western and Northern Cape more than a decade ago. By this stage she had already dedicated her life to assisting the most vulnerable groups in the communities in which she worked, particularly championing the rights of women, children and workers.   She participated fully in the life of the organisation, and we will miss her words of encouragement, sparkling sense of humour, lively debate and leadership.  

We extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends at this time. Leonie’s legacy and passionate commitment to social justice will live on in all of us. We are blessed to have known her.

Alexa Lane


I will always remember Leonie for her courage and her kindness, for her independence, her intellect and her integrity. I am grateful for all she taught us and I know she will live on wherever we work for what is right and just.

Jane Coombe


A sad day indeed. Leonie leaves a space that can never be filled. Her strong convictions and determined fight for the poor and weak endeared her to many. Her mischievousness had many of us doubled over with laughter - tears streaming from our eyes. The memories live on..... RIP. Condolences to her family and colleagues.

Gadija Salie


Ek is in skok, hartseer. Ek sal jou onthou vir jou leierskap en groot leeuhart. Rus my suster, Rus nou ........, 'n laaste comma punt en hakies, of drukkie op 'n smart foon

Elroy E. Paulus


God Bless dearest Leonie.. We will miss your amazing insight, your sense of humour and your sense of right and wrong.. With lots of love from the KZN Black Sash Team.. Gone but never forgotten you dear Soul...

Evashnee Naidu


This is such heart-breaking news. Condolences to all who had the opportunity to know her and to all whose lives she touched. It was with a sense of humour and integrity that I remember Leonie doing what she did best. What a tough cookie and what a massive loss...

Gouwah Samuels Lund


It is indeed a great loss to the Nation. May her soul rest in peace. Condolences to her family, especially her children who she held so close to her heart. To the Sashers, we have lost a heroin, champion and a true believer in Social Justice. Her loud sounding voice will always ring in our ears. Her ability to see things from a different angle. We will miss her sense of humour even on serious matters. It is indeed a great loss to all of us. On behalf of the Gauteng team - I wish to express our condolence and sympathy to all those that were touched by Leonie Caroline in her special way. With tears in our eyes, may your soul rest in peace till we meet again.

Thandiwe Zulu


Our beloved and dear Leonie Caroline-Nyman

There is a saying that: "the love that follows us is sometimes our trouble”. This is befittingly so of you Leonie! We are left troubled because of your absence, not because you deliberately chose to. We are troubled because today our inner selves and souls are void of you; of your voice; of your physique and your shaking of hands when you speak to emphasise your feelings and point of view on something; we are devoid of your encompassing present in our daily working lives.

Death is a beast whose insatiable appetite is unfathomable, and knows no bounds. Death has robbed us of your presence. Death has never negotiated with us and your loved ones to have you!  Nevertheless, your spiritual being will never be removed from our memory!

Fare thee well Leonie, You fought a good fight and made your mark. All we wish for now is for your soul to Rest in Peace, until we meet again!

Black Sash Gauteng Staff members

Black Sash Gauteng tribute


What a charming, jolly, talkative, loud and cheerful person. She's gone... We are still alive... We should learn something from her passing that life is really like a steam... Alive and kicking and gone the next minute. Life and time doesn't belong to us but our Master, Maker, Redeemer and Friend Jesus Christ who is the author and finisher of our lives. May her Family find strength.....

Chuma Ngabase-Jakavula


Very saddened by her passing, her presence will missed at the office and her voice in the fight for social justice. May her soul find eternal rest in God's kingdom. Strength to the family. God bless Leonie.

Sonya Ehrenreich


A Tribute to Leonie

I didn’t get nearly as much time with Leonie as I would have liked but it was still starkly clear to me from the moment I met her that this was a women who embodied everything a legendary Sasher should! She was a mountain of integrity and conviction with an unrelenting spirit of a true and raw activist. Not everyone who works in the field of human rights is an activist, it takes a special kind of dedication and natural and genuine alignment with the principles of social justice- Leonie was an activist! You could just hear it when she talked, all fired up and passionate.... everything coming from deep within, propelled forth by a moral compass which just knows with absolute conviction what is right and just, and what is wrong and a breach of human dignity; in the most natural and unassuming of ways. Leonie was also kind and generous and you could always hear her in the office taking the time with each of her interns to teach and inspire, mentoring for hours about the ins and outs of social protection and the struggle to realise social and economic justice; always with great patience and humility. She was an institution of knowledge, which only comes from decades of dedication to the struggle to make human rights real. This is a struggle that takes it out of those who truly engage with their all and Leonie gave selflessly and tirelessly to ‘our people’ whom she loved dearly. Facing the ‘blue-eyed monster’ of injustice comes often at huge personal cost both physical, mental and spiritual and I can only hope that you find some peace in your passing... a place you can finally rest serene. Rest peacefully sister, in the knowledge that you have contributed massively and whole heartedly to humanity. Your passing is a massive and heart-wrenching loss but your contributions live on in those young minds you have inspired, in the institutional knowledge you contributed to the Black Sash and in the lives and hearts of those you touched. We will miss you deeply.

Much Love

Brittany Bunce


She contributed enormously to social justice in her physical life may she continue doing that in her next life. May her family be strengthened by the love of their family and community.

Linda Diedericks


Condolences to Leonie's family and Black Sash family. She will be remembered and greatly missed.

Angie Emmett


I don't know what to say, she was my Mom, my Idol. I am what I am because of her. I will miss you, Leonie. CTRO will never be the same without you. RIP my Manager.

Jan Stoot Garing


Extremely sad. If everybody had even only half the heart of Leonie the world would for sure be a much better place. Send my condolences to her family, friends, and everybody at the Black Sash in this sad time.

Anna Nilsson


Thanks for all you did! You are in our hearts forever! We already miss you!

Anne-Laure Macherey


Very sad hearing this news My condolences to Leonie's family and friends. I am so grateful I met her. May she rest in peace.

Oumaïma Ladhari


So sad to hear about the passing of Leonie, I had the privilege of working with her as an intern in 2012- she was a wonderful person, full of laughter, kindness and encouragement. My heartfelt condolences to her family, she will be truly missed. What a wonderful woman.

Deirdre Van Vuuren


All my condolences to Leonie's family, she was such an amazing person, and so committed to her cause. She has inspired me so much and will be greatly missed. Rest in peace Leonie.

Elodie Ncumisa Hut


 

Leonie interns

She was a very warm person, with great humour who made me feel immediately welcome and taught me a lot about the great work Black Sash is doing. My condolences to her family and her colleagues!

Kathrin Kromas


So sorry to hear this news... she was loved by all and I know everyone at Black Sash will carry on her legacy of love and compassion.

Irene Bucken


May she rest in peace. My condolences to all her family and everyone who had to chance to know her.

Léane Gaumond


My beloved Leonie. What a quiet giant you were among people. Your quick wit had me in stitches when I was prone on the couch and you were lying on "drie stoeltjies". You enriched my life with your funny witticisms and the world will be the poorer for this. We were an odd couple but you left me a legacy in the short time I knew you, which was one of perseverance in the face of adversity and to see the good in everything. I'm glad I could tell you how much you meant to me and how much I loved you. You were so shy about it. Rest in Peace my beloved Leonie.

Shanaaz Palekar-Rayner


Hamba Kahle comrade it was a pleasure working alongside you in the APRM and the Provincial Development Council which the Democratic Party dismantled to control the voices of the NGOs and community organisations.

Leon Pretorius


This is indeed very sad news. Condolences to Leonie's family and the Black Sash family. Will miss her and her energetic spirit.

Susan Thevar


She will be greatly missed I'm sure. Not just by me, but by all the people of South Africa that she helped over the years. She was so dedicated and had so much life and humour.

Shahin P. Keusch


Very saddened by this news. She was such an amazing person and she will live on in our hearts forever. She has impacted thousands and she will never be forgotten.

Amanda Marie Crissinger


A sad loss. Condolences to her family, friends and the Sash. RIP Leonie.

Morag Swanepoel


R.I.P. my friend...you were a colleague and a friend, always ready to share a chat and a laugh with me....you will be sorely missed. My heartfelt condolences go out to Leonie's family. May God be with you in this trying time.

Violette Clarke


May we pick up the baton Leonie has left. May we continue with the tenacity she had to the very end. Leonie, you have not only opened the door to Black Sash for me; you tirelessly explained social issues and taught from the heart unselfishly. I am richer for having met you. Your door was always open; you were never too busy for anyone or a joke. Straight as you were, you always spoke your mind. You have made your mark and your family must be very proud. You fought for the Oppressed and addressed the Oppressor. Your name will be remembered in the annals of time for you have made history. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. Rest in Peace Tannie!

Saadia Rhode


I had the privilege to meet Leonie when my daughter was an intern with Black Sash. An inspiring woman of great kindness and humour and deep commitment. The respect she generated will be a lasting testament.

Alison Dodds


So sad, my condolence to Leonie's family & the Black Sash family. It was great working with her. I enjoyed her company & sense of humour. RIP.

Julie Rodgers


Grant unto her eternal rest

Brian Alcock


So sad.... but indeed never forgotten dear Leonie... God bless you.

Reinilde Buseyne


My deepest condolences to her family and Black Sash family. She has left a significant mark and will forever be missed.

Lwazi Mtshiyo


Goodbye my beautiful, brave, strong, bright friend. She was passionate about what she did and who she did it with. I will miss you always

Sharon Cox Ludwig


Soos jy altyd gese het: Ek is a groot vrou ...". Indeed a giant amongst human beings. Generous and courageous, and always ready with some witticism. You will be sorely missed, and always loved.

Vanessa Ludwig


So sorry...I interacted with her a little when we worked on a project and she was a giant! What a loss...much love to the Black Sash office.

Anso Thom


This is a sadness beyond belief. Definitely a great loss that cries out. She was a fighter for justice and her integrity spoke volumes. Her humour and spirit lives on in our hearts and minds. Leonie was also kind and generous. It was a great opportunity working closely with her and having the opportunity to know her. Condolences to her family, especially her children.

Louise Olieslager


She helped my mom to sort out her pension payments with DoE. Our deepest sympathies to her Black Sash & other family. Sterkte vir almal.

Deena Bosch


I just wanted to convey my deepest sympathies to the regional and national staff on the passing of Leonie. She made me feel so at home and welcome in her way. And I will always remember with awe her phenomenal knowledge of social policy and social law in that session on the UI amendment bill. I thought about that meeting for weeks afterwards and always with a smile on my face. it was a great introduction to Black Sash at that time.

Rest in Peace Leonie and continue the good fight wherever you are.

Helga Tamara


On behalf of Sanctuary for Abused Women and Children, we take note of the untimely death of a dear comrade and friend. Her passion for whatever she did will be solely missed. Our deepest condolence to her family and colleagues. Your loss is ours, and our prayers are with you in this time.

Leonie streets

Condolences on the passing of Leonie Caroline

The management and staff of NCNGOCO Kuruman hereby wish to express their Sincere condolences to all at Black Sash and the family of Leonie Caroline.

Leonie will be remembered in this province for the fights she had with SASSA on the conditions of some of our pay points. We can say her interventions on behalf of black Sash changed the lives of ordinary people especially in this rural province. We will surely take the baton from her and continue the fight.

Rest In Peace Leonie.

Management and staff NCNGOCO Kuruman


The LGA worked closely with Leonie Caroline over the last year. I first met Leonie when she attended the LGA workshop for Sash staff in Durban in October last year. She conducted the LGA workshops in the Cape Metropole and also in Saldanha, along the west coast. She did great reports, creative and informative, and sent wonderful photos and pamphlets of the various workshops.  Leonie was an incredible force of nature – strong, a direct talker, energetic, with an enormous and tireless commitment to the work of social justice that the Sash undertakes. She was an organiser.

I am sure you will join me in sending our condolences to her colleagues at the Black Sash, and to her family. We mourn with you the loss of a fine human being and wish you courage in the days and weeks ahead as you prepare to say goodbye to Leonie.

Adele Kirsten


It is with great sadness this morning that I learnt of Leonie Nyman’s passing over the weekend! All of us and the work we try to do is affected by her passing.

Ghalib


I was so shocked to hear of Leonie's death as although I knew she had Cancer I had not realised how very ill she was. I think of Leonie with her strong voice and imposing presence with affection. She brought a great deal to her work for the Sash and a lot of it from a Trade Union background. She was never afraid of speaking out and had strong views which she made sure were listened to. One knew that she would put the needs and concerns of the disadvantaged first. She was like a breath of fresh air and I can hardly believe that she is not walking with us anymore.

Rosemary Smith, Grahamstown


I am very sad about Leonie.  It is hard to think of the Sash in Cape Town without her.

Leonie Caroline was an extra-ordinary woman.  She lived what she believed – that all people are born equal, all are equal before the law and all are entitled to be treated as equal.  She had a deep sense of justice and during her final years embraced the Black Sash as the platform from which she fought for the rights of all those who are treated as unequal.  May her dear soul rest in peace and may her dedication and commitment inspire us individually and as an organization for many years to come.  

Di Oliver


When Alexa called me over the weekend with the sad news, I was deeply hurt because I also experienced a difficult time with the passing of relatives. I didn’t have an opportunity to see her during her struggle whilst in hospital. Having known Leonie as a fighter, I can only imagine that she didn’t surrender easily. I was hoping to speak to her this week. Unfortunately, I was not afforded the opportunity. Nonetheless, Leonie was relieved from suffering. I am sure her family and relatives will understand and accept that Leonie’s soul will rest in a better place. I have known Leonie as a friend and colleague who didn’t shy away from expressing her opinions in a principled and objective manner on a variety of matters. For Leonie, no matter how small or irrelevant an argument might be, the crux of her thinking was always about principle, principle and principle. That was Leonie’s school of thought. Leonie, used to tell me: “Jonathan, you don’t need a university degree to understand principles.”  Having said this, I will miss Leonie’s robustness and straightforwardness.

May God Bless Her Soul.

Jonathan Walton


This is very sad. Please convey condolences from myself and SECTION27. We wish you strength in this difficult time.

Mark Heywood 


Rest well, knowing that your work will continue.

Tamara Jantzen


No frills, no nonsense BUT always a good old laugh. I will miss you, Leonie.

Ratula Beukman


 

Leonie Streets 2

Condolences to the family of Leonie from the Chairperson of the Western Cape Paralegal Forum. Oom Ben, Reggie, Brian, Caroline, Wilhemien, Rayter and all the members. We will remember her for her friendliness and for being an inspiring person... My her soul rest in peace.

Rest in Peace Dear Sister!

Diana Donnelly


It has been my privilege to pull together all the tributes to Leonie as well as to compile an picture album of her life at the Sash. In the process, I realised just how much Leonie represented the best of courageous and active citizenship, and how hard it will be to follow in this dedicated and passionate woman's footsteps. I am sure her children are proud to have had such a mother, as we are privileged to have had such a colleague.

Andrea George


Here is a photograph of Leonie doing what I remember her doing so well - communicating.  Leonie made her passionately-held beliefs quite clear - the rights of all to justice, dignity and a share of the resources of our land.  One of her many skills was to assist people to understand and claim these rights in clear, principled terms and in the process she helped to deepen and engage civil society. My deepest sympathy to Leonie's family and to her many colleagues and friends.  She will be sorely missed by all at the Black Sash.

Jenny de Tolly

Jenny de Tolly tribute


I am so sorry to hear the sad news that  Leonie has passed away. I remember her coming to UCT to speak to our group of masters students back in 2005, she was a formidable and inspiring presence. I am very lucky to have met Leonie again several times through work with the Black Sash,  I was always impressed by her dedication and knowledge.
She will be very much missed.
My sympathies and best wishes to you all at Black Sash.

Louise Carmody


We, Lighthouse Community Grouping, Lotus River Advice Office staff, members and volunteers would like to express our sincere condolences to Black Sash and the family of the late Leonie Caroline. Our thoughts are with you. May you find peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Thank you for her support throughout the years; the knowledge she implanted in us so that we could take it to the communities and transform it. We will surely miss her. R.I.P Leonie Caroline.

Mr V Gelderbloem


On behalf of the staff, board and associates of the CDRA I wish to extend our sincerest condolences to Leonie’s family as well as to the Black Sash – we are saddened by her passing.  It is during such trying times that we pray that her family, colleagues and loved ones will turn to God Almighty for strength and comfort! We will hold you all in our prayers and consciousness!

 Nomvula Dlamini, Executive Director


I'm so sorry about Leonie, she was such as dear person and never missed a moment to either tease me or engage me on the failings of government. A sad loss indeed.

Selwyn


How sad I was to hear of the death of Leonie. What an amazing and spirited woman

Sue Soal


So sad to hear. She was a joy to be around during my internship. Sending prayers from America.

Sarah Houseman


My heart bleeds for her family, CTRO and Black Sash because Leonie's kind is rare to find. She was a rare jewel. What distinguished Leonie is her motherliness to us as CTRO. She was not just our superior, but truly cared for us as individuals, for our very lives. She wanted to build us up to achieve our greatest potential, always pushing us to do better. She knew when to bite if we go off course and when to soothe the sore...She was no ordinary woman. A woman of high regard who can never leave you the same... Black Sash can never be the same!

Sharon Tshado 


n' Nagedagtenis van Leonie se dood

Ons het gehoor van die afsterwing van Leonie Caroline. Leonie se dood is waarlik skokkend want ons as ODEC het n' rots verloor. Haar laaste donasie aan ons was 'n rekenaar, en toe ons vir haar gevra het hoekom sy dit doen het sy gese, "Dawid, ek is geroep on advieskantore wat swaarkry, te help. Sy het ook bygevoeg dat dit 'n roeping was wat God op haar hart geplaas het.

Leonie was 'n nederige en passievolle mens. ODEC daag vandag enige persoon uit om haar voetspore vol te staan. God roep nog sulke verkose diensknegte in in die veld van gemeenskapsontwikkeling. Ons sal haar woorde en nagedagtes nooit vergeet nie. Sy was voorwaarlik "n voorbeeldige en gerope diendkneg van God.

ODEC bestuur is hartseer en ons bemoediging is, "Abraham het in die tyd van drrogter gesaai, en God het sy oes dubblematig geseen." Ons wil okk ann God dankie se vir 'n mooi aantal jare wat sy aan ons geleen was. Leonie jy sal gemis word, jou taak is volbring. Rus in vrede.

Ons innige meegevoel

Dawid Kroukamp, Director


Celebrating Leonie.

I only know Leonie through her work. My experience of her is that she never missed an opportunity to use her skill and courage to pursue the interests of others. She had a remarkable ability to amass detailed knowledge of policy and procedure that she used to great effect to assist people exercise their rights, and also to hold those responsible to account. Leonie never sought to rise above others, she got her great strength from being firmly and deeply rooted, a part of the people she served. She reflected the best of the values of the struggle, an example of some of the qualities vital for shaping the future. To me the force of her character had a quality to it (an edge) that reflected the depth of her love for people. I was fortunate to experience a bit of both.

Go softly great Leonie.

James Taylor


Farewell to a remarkable woman.  Your wisdom and entertaining laughs will be hugely missed.  I really enjoyed our little meet to meets on the front stoep, enjoying a ciggie.

No more suffering, no more pain.  You are the Angel's gain.

Gone too soon, but we have to let go.

Love you forever, Lee.  As I sometimes called you.

Heather Adonis


Laying Leonie to rest was as personal and tough to me as laying to rest a family member.. Throughout the night of her funeral I could hear her voice calling to me in her characteristic way: 'Miss E-vashnee' with an emphasis on the 'E' then on the rest of my name and it comforted me because I felt that was her way of saying to me that she was at rest...

I have such visual images of Leonie, that reducing my memories of her to words seems such a disservice to her as she was always Larger than life, her playfulness exemplified by her deep dimples which popped out when she smiled or talked playfully, her wagging finger in the air when she was emphasizing a point or calling order to something she totally disagreed with and her constant hot flushes while we were all freezing..

Dearest Leonie, you were the gauntlet I had to face on entering the Black Sash but your rough exterior hides a beautifully generous warm heart which envelopes people that you care about and once your respect has been earned you are a friend for life..

You have left such a void in our organization both personally for me and professionally and I will truly miss your generosity of knowledge and spirit and your ways of challenging us all to think deeper than the literary..

Rest well my dear friend and colleague and leave a light on for the rest of us...
With love,
Evashnee Naidu


Tribute paid at Leonie Nyman's Funeral - 7 December 2013

It is a great privilege to pay tribute to Leonie today on behalf of the trustees and the staff, past and present, of the Black Sash.   She was the Western Cape Regional Manager of the Black Sash, and the whole organisation feels a deep sense of loss.

There are beautiful photographs of her, and many, many messages circulating among her colleagues and on our website. People clearly have wonderful memories of working with this greatly respected, strong, and principled fighter for social justice. She was a vocal champion of women; a defender of the rights of children; a supporter of rural people and their quest for a better life.

There are strong threads running through the messages – we all remember her sense of humour, and many have spoken of her kindness and generosity. She was a wonderful person full of laughter and encouragement. She was never too busy for anyone, nor for a joke. As one friend described her, she was a “charming, jolly, talkative, loud and cheerful person”.

Yet there was more to her than the warmth and the humour. She was a person of great integrity, indeed a “mountain of integrity and conviction” as one description portrays her, and she did not hesitate to speak out when she thought it necessary. One of the trustees remembers her spirited interventions at the difficult meetings we had when having to decide on the future of the Black Sash, and says she was “honest and to the point... difficult but genuine”.

It was that honesty and integrity which people admired in Leonie. She held onto her principles, and was passionate about her work and the people she sought to serve. We have respected her robust and straightforward way of addressing issues, and take pride in the decades of her dedication to the struggle to make human rights real.

Leonie came to the Black Sash after many years in trade union work, and her experience and knowledge stood her in good stead. She was connected to an astonishing number of people all over the province, and had an extensive network of colleagues. Those of our trustees who also have trade union backgrounds have paid tribute to a committed and powerful woman who fought for human rights for all.

Most of all, when I remember Leonie, I find myself thinking about her impact on the many young interns who come to work with the Black Sash from many different parts of the world. One would come into the office and find Leonie surrounded by an eager group learning the ins and outs of social protection and the work required to realise social and economic justice. Her institutional knowledge will be greatly missed. Warm and sad messages have come in from so many of these interns, and not only from them, but even from a mother, or a boyfriend, who have seen the effect Leonie had on each cohort of temporary additions to the Black Sash team. This contact has meant that her teaching and example has been spread through many countries and she will never be forgotten. “The respect she generated will be a lasting testament”.

We thank her family for the support they gave her, and we know that often she was very busy when they might have wanted to have more of her time. The Black Sash is thankful for the generosity with which they shared her, and for those who helped her with the task of caring for her children. She was immensely proud of them, and we extend our deep condolences to them and to her husband and wider family.

At this time in the history of our country, I would like to conclude with words written by the late Nelson Mandela:

“Death is something inevitable. When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace. I believe I have made that effort and that is, therefore, why I will sleep for eternity”.

Leonie too did what she considered to be her duty to her people and her country. May she rest in peace.

Siyabulela Leonie, ulale ngoxolo.

Mary Burton