In Memoriam: Virginia Brookes

At the Dullah Omar Institute (DOI), we are at a loss with the passing of our Chief Operations and Finance Manager, Ms Virginia Brookes.


She joined us when we were still the Community Law Centre (CLC) in 2001, and served the organisation until she retired in August 2021. She personified the values that the CLC / DOI stands for, namely integrity and compassion.

The work of support staff, many of them female, who make it possible for researchers, academics and activists to produce, teach and advocate, so often goes unnoticed. Virginia, or Aunty Virginia as she was known to some of us, had a deep passion for NGO work. She expertly managed the funds and operations that enabled the Institute to pursue social justice and steadfast refused to seek the limelight, or take any credit. In the words of Justice Vincent Saldanha, Board member of the Institute: “Virginia has left a strong and an impeccable legacy of integrity and selfless commitment at the DOI and the University”. Prof Steytler, the Institute’s former Director and South African Research Chair in Multilevel Government, remarked: “Virginia was a wonderfully warm person that meant so much to so many people inside and outside the Institute. And over the years she built up DOI’s standing and reputation of financial integrity”. She became an institution at the University, well-known and respected among her colleagues in the central administration, many of whom became her friends. Her contribution went far beyond the Institute because she also served other NGOs, such as the Surplus Peoples’ Project and the South African Liaison Office. Furthermore, she was instrumental, at a national level, in the Sunday School Programme of the New Apostolic Church, and a formidable presence in her community.

Another one of her many qualities was her ability to mentor colleagues who pursued a career in administration and finance. She taught numerous eager young minds the ins and outs of finance and administration and equipped these young people for careers at UWC and elsewhere. She enjoyed working with young scholars and students from across Africa, and did so much to help them navigate administrative requirements.

Virginia’s legacy of integrity and kindness lives on in Bernard, her husband for 43 years, her four children and five grandchildren.

Aunty Virginia, we’ll miss you, but you left us strong and bigger than we were. Rest easy now.


The funeral is on 28 August 2021 at 10h00 and will be livestreamed HERE from 09h45 onwards.