To the chess community of the Western Cape
It was with great sadness that I learnt yesterday of the passing of one of our Legends of Sport in the Western Cape Mary Baatjies.
I came to know Mary in the last decade. When I first met her at Claremont chess club she was surrounded by lots of small kids who were all clamouring for her attention. When I asked her about the kids she said they were all hers!
She explained to me that she was busy with community chess projects and this was their first event for many of the kids. Since then I met her at many events across the Western Cape and South Africa with many kids.
In 2013 Mary was nominated as a sport legend for her contributions to sport over the last thirty years. She was involved in a number of sport codes and in her last years of her life she was dedicated to chess.
As I was checking the Legends list I noticed that Mary was marked as not attending. When I made enquiries I discovered that Mary was taking some young kids to Durban for the nationals. I called her and asked why she couldn’t attend. She then responded I cannot leave the kids alone to travel. I offered to pay a single flight to enable her to attend the Legends function and then return with the kids in the bus. She flatly refused and said “advokaat! Let me travel with my kids please”.
I said Aunty Mary that’s fine. We awarded her the Western Cape Sport Legend Award in her absence as she was still doing duty. That’s commitment and dedication.
Mary also attended the send-off function for the Olympiad team before they travelled to Norway. This was Mary. She enjoyed being around chess events and always had a friendly word.
Mary is the reason why many children are saved from the possible gang violence and other ills affecting our society. I too remember her telling me now that she is retired she will have more time for chess.
To the family of Mary Baatjies I say thank you for the service that Mary gave to chess and her community generally. We salute this fallen soldier.
Mary your contributions over the years did not go unnoticed. You will be sorely missed.
Hamba Kahle Mary.
Go in peace Mary.
Advocate Lyndon Bouah
Chief Director of Sport and recreation
Western Cape Provincial Government
See official letter attached: