Manie Kriel (70), passed away on Saturday morning following heart complications. Affectionally labelled the unofficial Mayor of Phalaborwa, Manie Kriel was part of the town’s history. In his younger days he was deeply involved in politics and rubbed shoulders with many of the stalwarts including the late Nelson Mandela whom he famously knew personally. He was an outspoken president of the Chamber of Commerce and diligently fought for the rights of the citizens of the town he loved so dearly.

On Sunday afternoon, he and his partner of 35 years, Meryl Heidtman, enjoyed a meal and desert after which he complained of indigestion. On Monday morning he paid a visit to his GP complaining that the indigestion and heartburn was not subsiding. By that afternoon he was being transported to Mediclinic Tzaneen and two days later was admitted to Mediclinic Midstream in Pretoria. His condition improved, but then deteriorated again to the point where on Saturday morning there was nothing more doctors could do. He passed away in the company of those who loved him.

Manie leaves behind his five grandchildren, three sons Aldo, Renier and Jacques and the love of his life, Meryl. His memorial service will be held today (Friday, 27th of August) out of the Methodist church in Phalaborwa and will be streamed live over Facebook.
Personally, I knew him as uncle Manie. Since my arrival in Phalaborwa as a young boy in 1990, he was a part of what I understood as my hometown. When I returned to Tzaneen in 2015, he was one of the first to contact me. We spoke regularly, daily, and our discussions around politics and the current state of affairs were seemingly endless, but always enlightening. He said it like it was and cared little about those who disliked his approach and opinions. I will miss you uncle. I already do. Rest in peace dear mentor, confidant, and friend. We will hold the line.

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