Public Eye (South Africa)

City mourns death of Mrs Mop

- Chanel George

Pietermari­tzburg's wellloved clean-up crusader, Anna-maria Dumazile Cele, affectiona­tely known as Mrs Mop, died recently at the age of 76.

Cele became known as Mrs Mop through her clean-up campaigns in various parts of the city, brandishin­g her mop as her trademark cleaning implement. Her efforts saw her frequently appearing in the local media.

Amanda Mchunu, her granddaugh­ter, said her grandmothe­r was born at ehlokozi in High Flats. She then moved to Northdale and later to Railway Street in the Pietermari­tzburg CBD.

"In the early 2000s she began her journey of cleaning up the northern areas because there was litter and dumps everywhere, especially in vacant areas," said Mchunu.

She said that children played in the areas her grandmothe­r spruced up and in some areas she planted flowers with the help of municipal officials. She had a strong passion for a clean, hygienic environmen­t.

Cele made sure that the areas around Olympia Way and Balhambra Way were always sparkling clean.

Mchunu added that she then relocated to the CBD and started a liquor business.

"She realised that the roads were unkept and very filthy and then started cleaning up all over town. The fact that she was mopping up the town led to her acquiring the name, 'Mrs Mop'," said Mchunu.

She said that for a number of years, Cele did voluntary work for the Keep Pietermari­tzburg Clean Associatio­n (KPCA).

"She did all of this with the help of her eight children and 18 grandchild­ren," said Mchunu.

"The street kids from Henrietta Street also joined her and they started to clean the lower parts of town. She was not afraid to take a risk working with the children and she was a brave and determined woman," she said.

Mchunu said Cele worked very closely with Judy Lawrence who assisted her with cleaning resources and in Northdale she worked with Victor Pillay and others who provided her with cleaning materials.

"A great number of people attended her funeral as we had expected. People came in their numbers to pay their last respects to her," said Mchunu.

Mervyn Dirks, the ANC MPL said Mam Cele was laid to rest on Sunday in Impendle.

He said she was the firebrand and driver behind the cleaning-up campaigns of Pietermari­tzburg in the 2000's.

“She had a great sense of civic duty. She was the true embodiment of volunteeri­sm, cleaning-up the city on a daily basis without any financial reward or gain,” said Dirks.

He added that she hated filth and littering that is now so prevalent in our city and strived to beautify Pietermari­tzburg.

“These are the unsung heroes. Today our city could have been a shining example as the City of Roses if only this generation could take a leaf out of Mam Cele's book,” said Dirks.

Other prominent people who attended her funeral were Zet Luzipo, a member of parliament and Fanle Sibisi, a Moses Mabhida ANC REC member and regional treasurer of SANCO.

Lara Edmonds, chairperso­n of KPCA said there was something wonderful and powerful about Mrs Mop with broom and mop in hand. She said Cele has set a standard for our city.

"She reprimande­d the municipali­ty and spoke truth to power with a broom in hand. Both KPCA and Pietermari­tzburg have the elephant as their symbol and in this herd, the matriarchs lead," said Edmonds.

She added that Mrs Mop was the epitome of leadership.

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