Bench removed without consultation

Tracy Busse (née du Plessis), Melbourne, Australia

My great grandmother, Dolly Tait, was part of one of the earliest families to settle in Fish Hoek, and the valley has been home to five generations of our family.

In fact, many of the original family homes, Glengarry, Braeside and Moontide, still stand today.

When my brother, Pierre du Plessis, died age 39, in 2010, my mother, Jeannie (nee Duncan/du Plessis) Pratt paid for a bench to be erected on Fish Hoek beach.

This bench has been a wonderful source of comfort to our family. The bench was more than a bench; it was a place to go to speak to my brother, for his children to sit and think of him. It was “his place”, and for me, it was a reminder of many childhood years on our beautiful beach. It was very special for all of us.

Imagine my horror when I discovered that the bench had been removed from its place adjacent to the children’s playground.

Yes, removed without any consultation with the family who paid for it and with no regard for the memorial plaque that was placed on this bench.

My step-father, Allen,
happened to be in Fish Hoek and managed to track down a contractor who had, on his own initiative, collected the plaques from the removed benches. Unfortunately, my brother’s
plaque was not among the salvaged ones.

It appears that there has been no record made of which benches were demolished and which plaques have been removed, so there are a number of other families who have also been treated with a lack of empathy and respect.

My understanding is that there is no plan to re-erect the plaques on benches. We are following this up to try to find a solution.

I understand that redevelopment is essential, but I am appalled at the lack of consultation, foresight and empathy that has been shown with regards to the benches.

There are many other similar benches which mean so much to families, many of whom may no longer live in Fish Hoek, but they have, and always will have, a connection with this special
place.

I am hoping that my message will result in some change to how these benches are managed and maintained in the future.

Benches paid for by the public should be treated as an asset by the council.

I trust that this provides some insight into the history, value and meaning behind our bench and every bench that has been dedicated to the memory of a loved one.

The council is here to serve its community and, in this case, it
has failed dismally. We deserve more.

See story on page 8