NMMU honours Bay’s heroes

2016-12-14 06:02
Phumzile John Gomomo.

Phumzile John Gomomo.

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THREE formidable Nelson Mandela Bay residents were honoured at the annual Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Council Prestige Awards for their immense contribution to the greater university community.

Late unionist and workers’ rights activist Phumzile John Gomomo, former NMMU Council member Cumngce Gawe and internationally renowned motivational speaker Alison Botha are this year’s recipients of the coveted awards.

The awards, conferred on individuals who have shown immense commitment and broken ground in their respective fields, were presented by NMMU Council Chair Judge Ronnie Pillay at a function in Summerstrand on December 8.

Gawe (77) was lauded for his loyalty and dedication to the University over the years.

Gawe, who has worked in both the public and private sector, has enjoyed an illustrious career with many accomplishments.

The former Uitenhage mayor has served on numerous business committees and councils.

He has had a long-standing association with the University and was present at the signing of the historic Memorandum of Agreement leading to the merger between the PE Technikon, University of PE (UPE) and Vista University (PE Campus) in 2003.

The NMMU Council honoured Botha (49) for her unstinting commitment to empowering others to transcend their circumstances, overcome life’s difficulties and stand strong in the face of adversity.

The former Collegiate Girls’ High School head girl is renowned for her incredible story of miraculously surviving a horrendous abduction and rape ordeal, in which she was stabbed multiple times, and left for dead.

Just as she cheated death that night, she later denied her assailants the satisfaction of destroying her life by refusing to be victimised, sharing her story in her book I Have Life.

The bestseller was adapted into the recently released movie, Alison. She has also addressed thousands of people over the years, inspiring them by sharing how attitude, belief and choice led to her heroic survival.

Gomomo, who would have turned 70 on December 16, was posthumously lauded for his dedication and unwavering commitment to addressing the rights of workers.

Born in Adelaide, Gomomo did his primary schooling at Lower Ntlaka Primary School, before going on to study until Grade 8 at Marymount High School, in Uitenhage.

He later obtained his matric through correspondence studies. He joined VWSA in 1963 and, through a company bursary, studied Labour Relations at the former UPE.

Comrade John, as he was affectionately known, became the first chairperson of the Eastern Cape Region of the Federation of SA Trade Unions (FOSATU) and took part in the four-year long talks that, in 1985, led to the formation of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU).

He was also instrumental in the establishment of the continent’s biggest metalworkers’ union, the National Union of Metalworkers in SA (NUMSA). He became an ANC Member of Parliament and chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration in 1999. He passed away in Uitenhage on January 22, 2008.

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