Tribute to Dawid “Oom Dawie” Phillips: 12 June 1960 – 1 October 2015

DAWID Phillips, a man who greatly contributed to poverty eradication amongst the fishing community of Port Nolloth passed away on Thursday October 1.

He will be laid to rest on Saturday October 9, in the small fishing town of the Northern Cape.

Oom Dawie, as he was affectionately known in the community and among his Coastal Links comrades across South Africa, was born in the town of Kuboes, where he completed his schooling up to Sub B. From there the family moved to Port Nolloth, where he completed his schooling up to Standard 6 at the Roman Catholic Primary school.

“In those days we lived under the yoke of apartheid, and no schooling opportunities were available for our people, and we had to go to the church school, which could only take us to Standard 6,” says Jeffrey van Neel, Oom Dawie’s younger brother.

Oom Dawie was born on 12 June 1960, and was the eldest of seven children – Wilhelmina, Magdalena (passed away), Jeffrey, John, Ansie and Japie.

Oom Dawie’s children are Lynette Saal, Reagan Phillips, Glen Phillips, Madeleine Phillips and David Phillips.

He was married to Lorraine Phillips, from whom he divorced at a later stage.

Oom Dawie’s father was also a fisherman and caught mainly rock lobster and snoek, but also caught other species.

Upon leaving school, Van Neel says that Oom Dawie started working in a local shop, and later went to work at ASD, a diamond prospecting company, which is today known as Alexcor.

“At ASD he worked with the builders, and through the years he acquired and mastered many building skills, and he became an artisan,” says Van Neel.

Oom Dawie also moved out of Port Nolloth  for some time and later worked in Oranjemund and Ovamboland, in what is today Namibia, as well as in Welkom.

Later he started building houses and became a successful contractor, and in his spare time he started catching fish as a hobby.”

Van Neel says that his brother always had it in him to become part of the fishing industry, and when the building industry started to slump, he became a full-time fisher.

“For more the 15 years Dawie has been a fisherman until the time of his death last Thursday, and that is how he also became involved in Coastal Links.”

Van Neel says that both his mother and father are still alive, and that especially his father has taken the passing of Oom Dawie very hard. He still asks every day about Oom Dawie’s well-being.

Van Neel says that his brother had a great heart and helped out a lot in the community, and was always ready to help others out, occasionally providing families with much needed assistance when they could not make ends meet to put food on their own tables.

“When he had his contracting company, Dawie sponsored many community organisations, sporting clubs and churches, and recently, Heroes Football Club celebrated its 25th anniversary, and Dawie was one of its first sponsors in its beginning years,” says Van Neel.

Oom Dawie was a soft person who would rather walk away from a fight and come back later when the tempers has cooled down to settle a matter, according to Christiaan Mackenzie, chairperson of CLSA in Port Nolloth.

“He was very committed to the struggles of the small-scale fishing community, and in the process neglected his family and his own personal well-being,” says Mackenzie.

Oom Dawie joined CLSA in 2006, never looked back, and did a lot to empower the fishing community of Port Nolloth and even the nearby community of Hondeklipbaai.

“Oom Dawie came back from Cape Town and told us that we must form co-operatives to relieve the poverty in our community. He put his heart and soul in it, and we formed 11 co-operatives through Oom Dawie’s hard work,” says Mackenzie

Mackenzie says through the co-operatives they were able to secure funding from the government to buy 10 small boats and one big boat, with which they use to catch snoek.

Through the co-operatives, the community has learned to work together, pool their resources, and help each other to live sustainable lives.

“There are still many people in our community that are outside of the co-operative system, and we want to pull them also into co-operatives, so that they can also benefit, and build sustainable lives.”

Mackenzie says that besides his responsibility in CLSA, his interaction with the Hondeklipbaai fishers, Oom Dawie also served on the Port Nolloth Fishing Desk.

All his activities in CLSA and on behalf of the fishing community of the Northern Cape and South Africa were drastically reduced once Oom Dawie became sick.

Oom Dawie became sick when he attended the World Forum of Fisher People’s in Cape Town in September 2014, and was later diagnosed with brain cancer.

Van Neel says that even though his brother was ill, and he resigned from active duty in CLSA, many of the CLSA leaders realised the value of his contributions and the leadership role he played in keeping the community and the organisation together.

“The CLSA leaders continuously consulted him, and I sometimes talked to him about it, telling him that he must slow down since he is now very sick, but, he believed the struggle of the community was important and that he must help where he can.”

“For a whole year he suffered with the cancer, and it was very painful for him, and for us to see him suffer. He had an operation, but we were shown a cd which indicated that the cancer has spread, but, Dawie was very optimistic and had high hopes that he will beat the cancer.”

Mackenzie says that a full delegation of CLSA and Masifundise and Port Nolloth and Northern Cape Fishers will attend Oom Dawie’s funeral, and that one speaker from CLSA will deliver a tribute on behalf of CLSA, Masifundise and the whole small-scale fishing community.

As part of the legacy of Oom Dawie, Mackenzie says that they will be setting up more co-operatives in Port Nolloth to get more people out of the poverty trap.



Saturday 9 October 2015

9am – At Home

Viewing and Service

10am- At Port Nolloth Roman Catholic Church

Funeral Service

11am – Burial – Alfred Warne Cemetery


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