Fred Hufkie 2012

Reverend Fred Hufkie spent his life serving communities in the under-resourced Great Karoo area.

A teacher by profession, he rose to be the principal of Spandau High School in Graaff-Reinet. He was an active member of the Teachers' League of South Africa and the Unity Movement. His teaching years spanned the turbulent 1970s when the struggle for equal education met with the fiercest and most brutal response from the apartheid state. As a strong opponent of racially segregated education, Rev Hufkie was arrested and detained at the height of the people’s uprising against “bantu education” in 1976, and imprisoned in Victor Verster Prison for seven months.

Upon his release, constant harassment by the security police made it impossible to continue working at the school, as Rev Hufkie believed that this placed the lives of fellow teachers and pupils at risk. He thus retired and in 1979, enrolled at Rhodes University to study theology.

During his time in Grahamstown, Rev Hufkie was a founder member and served as chairperson of the Albany Non-Racial Sports Board, which initiated programmes for young people to play sport together, irrespective of their backgrounds. He played a leading role in bringing about non-racialism in South African sport, in particular rugby.  For many years he was the Vice-President of the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and was appointed Life Vice-President of the South African Rugby Football Union (SARFU) and Honorary Vice-President of the Eastern Province Rugby Football Union.

Following three years of Theology studies at Rhodes, the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa placed him in the Ennerdale United Congregational Church in Johannesburg to complete a two-year internship. He then received a call to Graaff-Reinet to the Parsonage Street United Congregational Church, where he was ordained. He served this congregation from 1983 to 1995.

For Rev Hufkie, the ministry was another avenue for taking forward the fight for social justice. He was an active participant in the Eastern Cape Council of Churches, in particular playing a central role in supporting the Council’s Dependents Conference. The aim of this project was to provide spiritual and material support to detainees and their families as well as those who were criminally charged with crimes against the apartheid regime. Rev Hufkie assisted and co-ordinated support to detainees through the Midlands Council of Churches based in Middelburg, covering the whole of the Midlands region. This activism once again resulted in arrest and detainment for six months.

Reverend Hufkie accredited his dedication to democracy and freedom for all people in South Africa to the privilege of having been at Fort Hare University in the late 30s and the early 40s with Nelson Mandela and the late Oliver Tambo.

Rev Hufkie passed away on 19 July 2001.

For his contribution in challenging the unfairness of racially segregated education, and for his care and concern for community activists and their families, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is honoured to present Rev Frederick Emmanuel Hufkie, posthumously, with the Council Prestige Award.