ON December 3, Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) announced “with great sadness” the passing of Putco Mphuthumi Mapitiza - an ANC councillor from Plettenberg Bay who had succumbed to Covid-19 last Wednesday.
“Councillor Mapitiza was directly elected to serve on the GRDM council and also served on numerous committees, such as the Property and Asset Management, Workplace and Restructuring, and Strategic Services committees,” according to the statement.
Mapitiza was described by councillors who worked alongside him as “a true leader, an outstanding servant of the people, a prolific commissar, and a revolutionary who loved life”.
GRDM mayor Memory Booysen recalled meeting Putco, as he was known by all, while participating in boxing in 1989. They became sparring partners, practising and attending tournaments together.
Paying tribute to his friend and colleague of many years, Booysen said: “On a lighter note, he was lucky - he retired from boxing undefeated.”
He recounted recruiting Putco into youth politics in 1994/5 with the help of now ANC member of the Western Cape parliament Lulama Mvimbi, whereafter the trio became political associates.
Mvimbi was mayor of Plett when CXPRESS published its first edition on June 1, 1998, and graced the launch event with a speech of welcome and good wishes.
Over the next two decades, the paper bore witness and often reported on the political careers of Messrs Mapitiza, Mvimbi and Booysen, the latter later joining the DA. After graduating into fulltime politics, Booysen and Mapitiza both became councillors at GRDM.
“We will all remember Putco - me especially - as somebody who had no grey areas in his personality. What you saw was what you got, and one either agreed or disagreed with him. He was not a pretender when expressing his political ideologies,” said Booysen.
“I believe that his passing is a great loss to the Garden Route as a whole. I am saddened that in this instance I am not just losing a friend or a former sports partner, but a brother, too. May his soul rest in peace.”
GRDM’s ANC chief whip and long-time comrade of the late Mapitiza, Pieter van der Hoven, remembers him as a visionary, a shepherd and a sober thinker at the forefront of technology, who was loved by all who dealt with him.
“The value Comrade Putco added to the ANC, as well as being a community leader, remains incomparable. As a councillor, he was dedicated, strategic and directional with a reasoned judgement.
“He was highly respected and had an unsurpassed sense of humour. His death is a huge shock and loss to the organisation in the region and in the community,” Van der Hoven said.
Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners president and fellow GRDM councillor Virgil Gericke described Mapitiza as a gentleman and a true cadre loyal to the course of freedom and justice.
Mapitiza formerly served as ANC regional secretary in the Southern Cape, as well as ex officio on the party’s provincial exco.
A memorial service was held at the GRDM council chambers on December 8.