The Kouga Municipal choir sang a powerful rendition of Never Give Up as people from all over South Africa and the world gathered to celebrate the life of Mayor Elza Van Lingen.
The words resonated with the family, friends and colleagues of Elza as everyone started singing along to words that epitomized one of the finest public servants South Africa has ever produced.
Among those at the memorial in Jeffreys Bay on Monday were DA leader Mmusi Maimane, DA chairman and Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip, Western Cape Minister of Finance Ivan Meyer, DA chief whip John Steenhuisen and DA Women’s Network leader NomaFrench Mbombo.
Mmusi Maimane said that Elza had taken him under her wing when he got to Parliament in 2014.
“Elza just said kom hier boetie and even gave me these amazing shoes as she showed us how a public servant works,” said Maimane.
“Elza was the first one at the office in the morning and the last one to leave at night.
I only found out in 2016 when she sat next to me at caucus wearing a doek that she was fighting cancer.
Her work never reflected that she was fighting a battle.
Elza was loved by all and understood the testimony of non-racialism,” said Maimane.
The DA leader said the people of Kouga did not just lose a mayor but a mother, and that the party had lost a shining star who knew what it meant to be a public servant.
“Elza had a strong sense of duty, showed profound courage with a raging disease and she was both competent and capable.”
Nelson Mandela Bay Mayor Athol Trollip said he had not only lost an exemplary colleague but a close friend as well.
He said her commitment, character and compassion were the three traits that best described her.
Her son, Mick van Lingen, described his mother as a formidable woman who was not shy to take on anyone.
“Her Xhosa name UnoNgayindoda when translated was ‘the woman who commands men’ which has a deep meaning in Xhosa culture.
“She was a fearless leader, a devoted mother of four and she cared deeply about her people,” he said.
Elza was born and raised in Willowmore and is survived by her husband Michael and their four children.
She was elected as Mayor of Kouga when the DA won the local government in 2016.