Obituary – Charles Jack Bezuidenhout


Charles Jack Bezuidenhout

16 April 1957 – 1 September 2009

Charles Jack Bezuidenhout left his mark on Numsa. In his almost 30 years in the union movement he held positions as Numsa shop steward, Numsa’s vice president, regional secretary as well as local organiser in the Wits Central West region.

Sitting in the memorial service in honour of his life, it was like ‘comrade Charlie’, as everyone knew him, was there with us.

Speaker after speaker spoke from the heart and as they spoke, they painted memories of Charlie with very strong strokes!It was Rosa Mkhize, Wits Central West shop steward and long time friend, that set the tone for the memorial service.

She spoke of a narrow escape from death while travelling back home at night with Charlie driving after a Numsa meeting in the Vaal.

“He was driving on the wrong side of the road, cars kept on flashing their lights at us,” she remembered with a smile on her face.

“When I pointed this out, he laughed it off and said, ‘those cars are just acknowledging us!’”Fortunately they were saved by the police who pulled him off the road and said he must sleep it off in a police cell. Despite his state, “he insisted that I mustn’t go into a police cell.

He pulled a Basotho blanket out of his boot and told the police that I would sleep in the car.”Others remembered how he had ‘intimidated some’ with his fiery voice and that “if he was angry, no-one would touch him!”

Philemon Shiburi spoke of how he came to respect him for his ability to respect democracy and refuse to exact revenge.“It was in 2000 at Mafikeng where he was not re-elected deputy president. The organisation dumped him.

I thought he would mobilise against those who were against him.”But instead in his new job as a local organiser, “he mobilised and united the local.”

In 2008 when he was not re-elected regional secretary he became an organiser in Johannesburg North local. Again, “he was not bitter, he just accepted his position,” he said.Shiburi also revealed the real reason why Charlie was always first in the office and first to leave!

It wasn’t love for his work as much as fear that he would crash his car into others! Neighbours and community members were also there to sing his praises. “

He was a right thinker,” said fellow community member, Nyovane. “He organised and united our communities; he wanted alliance structures to be strong.”

As another speaker said: “Cde Charlie will leave prints on the soil, in our hearts and in our minds.” Hamba kahle, cde Charlie.

Jenny Grice


Numsa News