Despite breaking its constitutional links with the Crown over fifty years ago (c.f. here), South Africa continues to enjoy close social, economic, and cultural ties with Great Britain, a fact borne out in the recent New Year’s Honours list. Of the numerous individuals awarded for their public service, four from this year’s list show the relationship between these two countries. Most prominent is Fleur Olive Lourens de Villiers (above), who has been named a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. Ms. de Villiers, a graduate of Pretoria & Harvard, is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. From 1960 onwards, she has been a theatre critic, economics correspondent, leader writer, columnist, political correspondent, newspaper editor, and travelling correspondent around the world, in addition to working with the De Beers Group and Anglo-American. She was one of the four contributors to the Institute of Economic Affairs’ 1986 study Apartheid: Capitalism or Socialism? which examined the role of the state and its race policy in the South African economy.
While Ms. de Villiers has been awarded a CMG, three others have been made Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or MBEs. Tom Hewitt (right) is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Umthombo Street Children in Durban, KZN. Umthombo runs drop-in centres, provides street outreach & healthcare, and runs programmes to get street children reintegrated into society.
Hewitt was first made aware of the plight of street children in Maputo, Mozambique in 1990 and began working with South African street children in 1992 in the Eastern Cape. After relocating to Durban, he founded the Durban Street Team in 1998, and in 2004, alongside his wife, founded Umthombo. Mr. Hewitt played a leading role in ending the forcible removal of street children in Durban in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, and organised the first-ever Street Child World Cup, sponsored by Deloitte, in response. Hewitt has worked alongside the Department for Social Development, and is Chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal Alliance for Street Children.
Inspector Richard John Maurice Hynes (right) of the Metropolitan Police was also honoured with an MBE for services to community safety in South Africa. Inspector Hynes has worked for various initiatives in South Africa on behalf of London’s renowned police force, which is twinned with the South African Police Service in the Transvaal township of Alexandra.
The Met, alongside the British High Commission in S.A., British Airways, and Charlton Athletic F.C., sponsors a football skills development training programme at Alexandra Stadium. Alexandra SAPS have introduced school police officers paralleling a programme first started by the Met in London which has been successful in reducing the offending rate amongst school-age children in the township. Higher-ups in the South African Police Service are hoping to introduce the programme Insp. Hynes has been involved with to other affected districts across South Africa.
The third MBE related to South Africa was awarded to Dr. John Edward Lancaster, a trustee and member of the Board of Directors of Sparrow Ministries, “for services to the victims of HIV/AIDS in South Africa”. Sparrow Ministries is an inter-denominational effort that provides care to children and adults who have been infected or affected by HIV and AIDS. Sparrow currently cares for over 225 children and over 80 adults.