Pauline Lois Melunsky 2010

Bobbie Melunsky was born in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, where her grandfather was Superintendent, and was brought up on her parents' farm in the Alexandria district.  She matriculated at St Dominic’s Priory, obtained her BA degree at the University of Cape Town and thereafter worked as a journalist at The Evening Post newspaper in Port Elizabeth under the editorship of John Sutherland.

She became an active member of the Black Sash in the 1960s, taking part in and organising demonstrations against apartheid.  She subsequently became Port Elizabeth chairperson of the Black Sash and, when asked to do so, went on to establish the Black Sash Advice Office in the city, working tirelessly with colleagues in the effort to help others.  With Di Davis, she established and managed the African Books Committee, a body of hard-working women devoted to raising money for the purpose of supplying school books and stationery to underprivileged children in the townships as well as running a Winter School in New Brighton and a library in the Walmer Township.

She played a leading role on various bodies opposed to the former government’s policy on forced removals.  In particular, as a member of the-then Walmer Committee of Concern closely involved in community affairs, she was a prominent member of the Save Walmer Committee, a group of concerned citizens that was successful in opposing the government’s decision to disestablish Walmer Township and move the inhabitants to Zwide.  She also strongly supported the Fingo community's ultimately successful bid for restoration of their former homes and land in the Tsitsikamma area - from which they had been forced at gunpoint in the course of relocation to the then-Ciskei.

All of the above, and more, she did in a purely voluntary capacity, at physical, emotional and financial cost to herself and her family.

Bobby Melunsky’s lifelong beliefs and tireless campaigning in support of a just society and her deep compassion for humanity correspond strongly to the central values espoused by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University: our commitment to social justice, respect for diversity, democracy, and Ubuntu.  We believe that the time has come for the University to recognise and pay homage to her extraordinary commitment to the service of greater humanity.

On behalf of Council, and in recognition of her deep concern for, and commitment to, serving the downtrodden and the quest for a fairer, just and equal society, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University is honoured to present Bobby Melunsky with the Council Prestige Award.