Mayor Elza Van Lingen passed away peacefully at her home yesterday after a long struggle with cancer.
After overcoming the illness in 2009, it returned in 2016 just before the Municipal election, which was won by the DA in Kouga.
Despite being on chemotherapy, Elza worked long hours as she was determined to turn the Municipality around and deliver services to all its residents.
Kouga Speaker Horatio Hendricks said her death had come as a shock and that councillors and municipal staffers were in mourning.
“We knew she had cancer, but she was fighting it all the way. Just last week she was in Kou-kamma, moving from voting station to voting station for the by-election that took place there.”
He said she would be missed for her incredible work ethic.
“Even when she went for chemotherapy, she never took the day off but would first come to the office or return to her duties directly afterwards.
“She was a mentor to many of us and was very active on the ground. One of her favourite sayings was that a good leader’s shoes should never be clean.”
The dynamic and passionate former Member of Parliament, Van Lingen was born and bred at Willowmore in the Eastern Cape.
She and her husband, Michael, ran a merino stud and farmed livestock and game. She was invited to get involved in politics at the time but declined as her children were still young.
That changed once her four children were grown up. The couple moved to Cape St Francis in 2000 where they ran a guesthouse.
The quality of the water in the town was of great concern to Van Lingen and her efforts to rectify it earned her an invitation to join the Cape St Francis Civic Association. Their main focus was on service delivery and the environment.
In 2002 she was approached to join the DA team and was elected as a DA councillor to the then Cacadu District Municipality (Sarah Baartman District Municipality).
She served as a district councillor for about six years before being elected by the DA to serve in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during the 2009 Elections.
In November 2011 she was elected the Leader of the DA in the NCOP and re-elected again in 2014.
She was also elected as leader of the Tsitsi-Kouga Constituency, which included Kouga, Koukamma and Baviaans.
Following the DA’s victory in Kouga in 2016, Van Lingen was elected as Mayor.
Her vision for Kouga, towards which she worked tirelessly, was to strengthen service delivery to all communities and to build a confident climate for investment and job creation.
RIP Elza. We going to miss you.