Crime fighter loses battle with cancer

Fozia Rhodes passed away on Sunday April 5. Picture: People's Post

The woman with the yellow bib – a familiar sight on the corner of Hengelaar and Trampoline streets – may be gone but she is not forgotten.

Crime-fighting hero Fozia Rhodes, 67, from the Beacon Valley community will forever be remembered.

Ms Rhodes lost her battle with lung cancer on Sunday April 5.

She became a household name in the community for crime fighting over 11 years. She was part of the Beacon Valley walking bus team, of which she was one of the founding members, said her daughter Amiena Rhodes.

She also served on the Beacon Valley Neighbourhood Watch and was a Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) Beacon Valley sub-forum member, representing her community at their monthly meetings.

Amiena said her mother lost her father, brother and sister-in-law to cancer too.

Over the years, Ms Rhodes would host cancer awareness events and march for cancer patients. She was also involved in fund-raising efforts to help those patients.

Ms Rhodes would walk children to school as early as 7am, come rain or shine, said Roellien Johnson, who worked with her on the walking bus.

Ms Rhodes lost her seven-year-old-son in a car accident at the four-way intersection in Trampoline Street. “She fought for years to get a four-way to prevent future accidents from happening,” said Ms Johnson.

Ms Rhodes started off working in a clothing factory in the 1970s and later she became an informal trader in the Town Centre, where she sold food such as pies and samoosas. She often fed the homeless in the Town Centre. During her time as a trader there she also met former President Thabo Mbek when he was visiting the area in the 1990s.

Her granddaughter, Qudsiyyah Rhodes, 11, said her grandmother was a very strong woman. “She loved children, did activities with them, modelling; hosting Mother’s Day, Youth Day and cancer events at the garden,” she said.

Ms Rhodes created a garden called The Love Garden on the corner of Jukskei Crescent and Trampoline Street. She created the garden herself in 2001, she cleaned it and made the space “beautiful again”, Qudsiyyah said.

“We are going to miss the food, we are going to miss her scolding, when she calls us to come and help with something. She was in love with gardening, she took pride in it. Most of all, we’re going to miss her love,” said Amiena.

Chairperson of the Beacon Valley sub-forum, Adam van Wyk, said Ms Rhodes may have been small in stature , but she had a big heart, and was a big woman in terms of character.

“She was a leading figure in the CPF sub-forum and it was a pleasure to work with her. We learnt about life and how to solve problems with her. She did it with a passion, she did it one hundred percent. She was quality,” he said.

Her neighbour, friend and colleague in the walking bus initiative, Tina Mcdonald, said she met Ms Rhodes when they moved into their Beacon Valley house 34 years ago.

“We’ve been friends since. I watched her children grow through the years. Her children would make me tea on arrival, she made sure they made me tea. I will pay ode to her by looking after her home and assisting her children, until one day I too close my eyes. She will surely be missed,” she said.

Sub-council 12 chairperson and Ward 79 councillor, Solomon Philander, said he got to know Ms Rhodes doing community work. “She did not worry in what capacity as long as she served, and never expected a reward”.

She was very active in the park on the corner of Hengelaar Street and Jukskei Crescent, in Beacon Valley, he said.

“Aunty Fozia attended my inauguration as sub-council chairman and always supported community initiatives in the time that I knew her,” said Mr Philander. He said she always shared ideas “to make progress possible together”.

“I take strength from our seniors in the community and I learnt many good practices from them. Hulle is staatmakers,” he said.

“Aunty Fozia was always a team player and made challenges look like an opportunity to serve. We will miss her contribution,” Mr Philander said.