‘Sefless’ Cafda stalwart dies

Derry Fitnum

Cape Flats Development Association (CAFDA) stalwart, Derry Fitnum died peacefully on Monday June 8, two months before his 84th birthday.

Mr Fitnum started working at the organisation in 1967 as a welfare officer, said Cafda Governing Board chairperson, Mark Rossouw.

“He became the warden of the Cafda Village Development in 1970 and he was instrumental in fighting with the then Cape Town City Council for the provision of flush toilets, sewer reticulation and electricity power supply for the residents of Cafda Village,” said Mr Rossouw.

During his tenure at Cafda, Mr Fitnum served as chairperson of the Governing Board for many years.

He officially retired from Cafda in 2009, after serving his beloved organisation for 42 years, but he remained on the Governing Board, where he held the position of chairperson of The Property Folio until 2011, when he finally bid farewell to Cafda, due to ill health.

“Mr Fitnum will not only be fondly remembered for his selfless community prowess, but also for securing a loan from the Cape Town City Council to erect the administration centre, which ultimately accommodated the social workers at the old Grassy Park premises in Eighth Avenue,” said Mr Rossouw.

Mr Fitnum obtained a grant from the Douglas Murray Trust to build the Mary Atlee Community Centre at the old Mary Atlee premises in Retreat Road.

He was also part of the team that developed Vrygrond in the mid 1970s.

The Cafda Governing Board, management and staff conveyed their sincere condolences to Mr Fitnum’s family.

His son Larry said his father was also Knighted by the Order of St John’s for the community service he delivered to the community and as chairman of the South Peninsula Branch. “There are so many people that have contacted me to share their story of how he changed their lives in so many ways, how he helped people get to where they got, and he gave them hope, whether through the skills development programme or purely by being a mentor to them,” he said.

“The broader Cape Town community and businesses were very supportive of Cafda and readily donated time, books, funds and food. The Cape Times ran the Shelter Housing Fund which meant so much to him and many others. I remember him fondly looking at the front page of the newspaper each morning to see how the donations grew.”

Mr Fitnum said his father feared the cold, wet Cape Town winters as he knew the pain and suffering it would cause.

“On many weekends I remember going with him to the Cafda soup kitchen to go make soup and then sit in the van during delivery handing out food and clothing.”

His father lived in Fish Hoek for the last 44 years of his life.

“The last year was at Carlisle Lodge, in Fish Hoek, where he was treated and cared for so well by all the staff. Sincere appreciation to all the staff at Carlisle. His wife, Jill, 86, is also living at Carlisle in frail care.”

Mr Fitnum said for the last 14 months of his life, his father had been in a wheelchair.

“He had a long time struggling with his back. He loved the community he served, and he felt for them. His feeling of worth came from the appreciation and thanks he got from his staff and the community.”

His motto was to treat people fairly, with kindness and respect as it would go a long way.

Larry said a small memorial will be held for his father when it becomes possible.