Row­ley loved with a fierce­ness that could save lives and heal wounds

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - CITIZENS - GAYE DAVIES

MAG­GIE ROW­LEY, who has died in Cape Town aged 61, lived her life with pas­sion and com­mit­ment, her gen­eros­ity of spirit tem­pered only by her ha­tred of in­jus­tice in any shape or form.

Her ca­reer, first as a jour­nal­ist and later, manag­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing for the Cen­tury City devel­op­ment in Cape Town, saw her touch the lives of many in ways they could not imag­ine.

Born on 21 Novem­ber 1957, she grew up in Dur­ban and ma­tric­u­lated from St Mary’s Dioce­san School for Girls, spend­ing a year in Amer­ica as a Ro­tary scholar be­fore study­ing to­wards a BA de­gree at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu Natal.

As a young reporter on the Daily News in Dur­ban she tried to un­cover the truth be­hind the 1978 as­sas­si­na­tion of the aca­demic and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist, Rick Turner, and helped to launch Rape Cri­sis cen­tres there and in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg, a cause she con­tin­ued to work for af­ter re­lo­cat­ing to Cape Town, where she cov­ered the early school boy­cotts of the 1980s and other acts of re­sis­tance to apartheid and re­pres­sion.

Her home was of­ten a haven for bat­tered women, rape sur­vivors, ac­tivists hid­ing from the po­lice or friends in need.

“She loved peo­ple with a fierce­ness and gen­eros­ity that could save lives and heal wounds. She had space in her heart for al­most any­one in pain, friend or stranger,” a life­long friend re­called.

Af­ter shift­ing her jour­nal­ism fo­cus to fi­nance and prop­erty, Row­ley be­came in­volved in the devel­op­ment of Cen­tury City, over­see­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing, which she con­tin­ued when the Ra­bie Prop­erty Group took over.

With typ­i­cal en­ergy and de­ter­mi­na­tion, she helped drive a no­table turn­around at Si­nen­jongo High School in Joe Slovo Park, Mil­ner­ton, which the com­pany adopted as the main ben­e­fi­ciary of its cor­po­rate social in­vest­ment pro­gramme in 2007. Within three years, the ma­tric pass rate soared from 27% in 2008 to 98% by 2010, Row­ley had be­come the go-to per­son in the face of any cri­sis and lives were changed.

A self-con­fessed worka­holic, Row­ley con­tin­ued work­ing even af­ter her can­cer was di­ag­nosed six months ago.

“Mag­gie was an enor­mously re­spected mem­ber of our man­age­ment team. She made an in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the Ra­bie Prop­erty Group, Cen­tury City and to the greater com­mu­nity. She will be re­mem­bered with love and re­spect and sorely missed on a pro­fes­sional and per­sonal level,” said Ra­bie chief ex­ec­u­tive, Leon Co­hen.

Feisty and funny, Row­ley could also be bossy and de­mand­ing – but al­ways in the best in­ter­ests of those she loved.

She was a de­voted mother to her daugh­ter, Geor­gia, and a lov­ing com­pan­ion to her life part­ner, Wendy Hartshorne.

She died in her sleep in the early hours of New Year’s Day, leav­ing a hole in the lives of her si­b­lings, Lawrence and Anya, her nieces and neph­ews, her birth fam­ily and le­gions of friends and col­leagues.


Mag­gie Row­ley and the manag­ing direc­tor of Ratanga Junc­tion JC van Der Westhuizen on the Co­bra.

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