Stellenbosch University mourns the passing of Prof Mary-Anne Plaatjies-Van Huffel today (19 May 2020) following complications after surgery. Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel was Professor in Ecclesiology in the Faculty of Theology. Prof Reggie Nel, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, pays tribute to Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel.
Prof Plaatjies-van Huffel played a remarkable and pioneering role in the church landscape in South Africa, our continent and internationally. She was the first woman to be ordained in the former Dutch Reformed Mission Church, which became the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, and later she was also elected as the first woman moderator of its General Synod.
While she has been a staunch activist for causes like black theology, woman's rights and transformation on many levels, and has represented our continent in prominent positions including in the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the World Council of Churches, she has also been a passionate church historian, church law expert and pedagogue. Her career at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University commenced fairly recently, but she made an indelible impression in her field, and in the hearts and minds of her colleagues and students. She was the first black woman to be promoted to full professor at the Faculty of Theology at Stellenbosch University and this remarkable achievement would have been recognised at her inaugural lecture as Professor in Ecclesiology later this year.
We recognise her many remarkable talents, achievements and contributions, but above all we remember her for her indomitable courage, her lovely person and her kind heart.
We mourn her passing with her husband, Rev Dawid van Huffel, her family and friends, our faculty community and the wider church community.
"It's sad news. Prof Plaatjies-Van Huffel was a valued colleague, renowned expert and a pioneer. We're going to miss her. Our deepest condolences to her family and colleagues," SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers said.
Photo: Dominique Jeftha, MatieMedia (2019)