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Mr David Mbulelo “Spi” Grootboom (Posthumous)

The Order of Luthuli in

Mr David Mbulelo “Spi” Grootboom (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the fight for liberation and dignity for the people of South Africa. He believed in the equality of all citizens and challenged injustices to the hilt.
Mr David Mbulelo “Spi” Grootboom was a selfless community leader who championed the cause of the anti-apartheid struggle in Oudtshoorn and the Klein Karoo.

It was during the 80s when the people of Bongolethu Township were at the receiving end of harsh repression at the hands of the kraagdadigheid rule of the openly racist Oudtshoorn Local Municipality, who denied the community of this township proper municipal services.

In the 80s the then security branch of the police waged a reign of terror on those who dared to challenge and voice protest against the local municipality. Grootboom  led the formation of the Bongolethu Youth Organisation, a vibrant anti-apartheid organisation that became the nemesis of the local security branch.

It became the voice of local residents resisting the municipality and was instrumental in taking over the struggle for municipal services, particularly housing.
He was instrumental in bringing together the community structures of Bongoletu and Bridgton to unite in the struggle against the apartheid organs in Oudtshoorn.

The unity displayed by the communities of both Bridgton and Bongolethu was one of those that led to the formation of the United Democratic Front, which was launched in 1983, around the same time when Oudtshoorn was engulfed in the anti- apartheid struggle.

In 1983 Grootboom and Reggie Oliphant were instrumental in the establishment in Oudtshoorn of Saamstaan, a trilingual community newspaper that was the voice of the struggle of the rural communities and courageously wrote about the harsh oppression of farmworkers in nearby farms.

For its courageous journalism, the newspaper was constantly harassed by the state. Its offices were searched, burgled, several editions confiscated and or even banned by the State while its workers were constantly detained. Grootboom graduated from the University of the Western Cape and began work in the field of social justice. Even in the new democratic dispensation, he declined numerous overtures for him to accept nomination to serve in the national assembly.

Grootboom also declined offers to assume mayorship in the local Oudtshoorn Municipality. He instead dedicated himself to working with smaller non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

He would argue that he believes his work was not complete  as there were still challenges of social inequalities and injustices. He worked at various NGOs throughout the Western Cape before eventually joining the provincial Department of Social Development.

He later returned to his hometown of Oudtshoorn as he wanted to remain in contact with the community. Grootboom died in August 2015.