Much respect for keeper of order in Parliament

2016-02-16 06:00
Godfrey Cleinwerck’s son Wayne, wife Linda and daughter Natasha Phillips pay their last respects to their father. . PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

Godfrey Cleinwerck’s son Wayne, wife Linda and daughter Natasha Phillips pay their last respects to their father. . PHOTO: TIYESE JERANJI

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Friends and family paid their last respects to Godfrey Cleinwerck (70), the first Serjeant-at-Arms of Parliament in democratic South Africa.

Cleinwerck, from Diep River, died of cancer on 4 February.

His memorial service was held at All Saints Church in Plumstead and the church was filled to capacity. Those who took to the podium reminisced about the good times they had with Cleinwerck, at work and at home. Most said they would remember him for his love for his family, his love of helping other people and his love for animals.

Eastric Brikkles, a long-time friend of Cleinwerck, said he had fond memories.

“We didn’t have any siblings, so we grew up as siblings. We did everything together. We developed a bond which never filtered, not even a single day, but lasted for 70 years. Though we got old we made it a point that we meet now and again and talk about the good times.

“He will be remembered as a passionate person. He was someone who loved people and this was shown by his numerous phone calls when it’s your birthday or anniversary. This is what most of us will miss the most about him.

“He taught me, and I believe many others as well, that family bonds are important and respect and loyalty go a long way. He loved talking to people he knew. Those he met for the first time, he really made them feel welcome and comfortable.

“His passion for animals was undeniable. He helped those orphaned and those that were in need of a loving home. We comfort ourselves with the fact that he really showed us his love,” said Brikkles.

During his time as the Serjeant-at-Arms he carried the mace, which is just over 1m long and made of 18-carat gold, springbok skin, diamonds and platinum, on his shoulder.

He announced President Nelson Mandela’s first entry into the National Assembly Chamber in 1994 and in 1999 he again announced his procession out of the Chamber upon his retirement. He has also announced the entrance of all the presidents who followed after Mandela.

The Serjeant-at-Arms is also the authority of the Speaker of the House. Cleinwerck’s nickname was “the bouncer of the National Assembly”, as he was called to escort Members of Parliament when they were ordered to leave the Chamber during a sitting.

Cleinwerck was the founder of the SA Serjeant-at-Arms Association. As a founding member of the Commonwealth Association of Serjeant-at-Arms for Africa he was elected chairperson in 2000. He was also invited to attend numerous serjeant-at-arms conferences in the United Kingdom, Australia, Kenya and Ghana, where he represented Parliament.

Regina Mhlomi took over the reins after Cleinwerck retired in 2011. She described him as a brother.

“He was a proud servant and a humble person. Considering the people of stature from different countries whom he worked with you would think that he would treat his colleagues differently, but he was a humble person. The same respect that he gave to the presidents he gave to his colleagues. He respected everyone. We will forever miss the gentle giant, we carry your heart with us as you have taught us a lot,” said Mhlomi.

Cleinwerck leaves behind his wife Linda to whom he was married for 43 years, his two children Natasha and Wayne and a grandchild, Alexcia Rose.

Cleinwerck was cremated.

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