- Patricia De Lille has been in the news almost constantly, but stays firm in her resolve
- She says her family are what keeps her strong and focused
- De Lille says she will always keep fighting for what's fair
Headliner of the week Patricia De Lille has said that her feud with the Democratic Alliance has been the toughest battle she has had to fight in her life.
De Lille has survived the sexual assault and murder of her younger sister, throat cancer as well as the "shame" of having a child during her teen years, to name but a few of the challenges she has risen above in her life.
A lesser woman would have caved under the pressure a long time ago. 67-year De Lille may have people undecided on whether they're for her or against her, but it is undeniable that she is a shining example of determination in the face of controversy.
One can't help but wonder how she manages to keep her head held high during this tiring and emotional time when it looks like so many are out to 'get her'.
De Lille says her virtues play a big role in how she handles life and it's challenges.
"My integrity and reputation are priceless. I've been in politics for over 45 years," she says. "I can't allow, at this stage of my life after having become a household name in this country, these small delinquent politicians with no political credibility to destroy my name."
She firmly stands by her conviction that the current media spectacle is nothing more than a way to get rid of her because of her determination to improve the lives of others.
Briefly.co.za reported previously that De Lille was a casualty of her own making because she was lured into the DA from her own independent party and now that she had served her purpose the DA would simply cast her aside.
She says that she was in denial and busy with other matters of importance such as bursaries and title deeds that needed to be handed out as well as trying to keep the peace where land invasions left citizens highly upset.
She would return home exhausted and depleted after work but get up the next morning and start again.
"My family and staff could see what I was going through. I've been to court three times in three months and never lost a single case. It's been a sharp learning curve for me. I have never been through something like this ever in my life; this relentless effort by people throwing dirt on my name every day hoping that the dirt will stick."
De Lille is clearly upset and hurt by the latest developments. "You can actually feel the hatred, why do you hate me so much?" she asks.
She still has many followers and they show their support for De Lille as best they can.
About her removal from the mayoral office, she says: "They took away my car. They packed up my stuff in boxes. It's overwhelming. But you know what, I take it as a sign from Mama Winnie that the fight must continue."
She also stated that she's never been in politics for financial gain or perks. "I have been in politics for the last 45 years. I never aspired to be here but life and its consequences saw me here. It's not about being the mayor, it's about what's fair and what I fought for."
She does not regret that she stood up for herself. She believes in fighting for fairness no matter what or who is involved.
The "warrior for justice", Patricia De Lille that we know today, grew up in the Western Cape in Beaufort West with her parents and 6 siblings.
She remembers standing up to the 'chore-unfairness' in their home as a child. "My brother was the eldest and only boy and my mother was fond of him, so he never did any house chores." De Lille tells. "I got tired of having to wash my own underwear, school clothes and socks, while my mom did his. So one night while washing the dishes I changed the roster and added his name. It was a big fight and I got a good hiding for that," she said, laughing.
She was her father's favourite daughter and he easily forgave her, while he also saw that it was in her nature to stand up and fight for fairness.
De Lille thanks her parents for her fighting spirit. Her mother, Winnie, was a dressmaker and her father, Henry, was a teacher. "I am at my best now because of their teachings. I'm alert and I'm vigilant. I look behind my back all the time. People want to be the mayor. It's a power play going on."
For De Lille, another struggle she has to face up to is the illness of her husband, Edwin De Lille. They've been at each other's sides as a married couple since 1972.
Her husband has never stood in her way during her political career. In fact, he has been a very helpful and understanding spouse. She feels she would not have achieved as much without her husband to hold her hand and support her.
He helped her out with chores that she couldn't get to herself, like cleaning and cooking and paying the bills. He had to stop helping out as much since he suffered two strokes in 2015. "Still, he is my rock. My children have been supportive," De Lille said.
De Lille says she is also fired up by late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela to fight to restore her name because Winnie advocated that "it's unattractive to play the victim as a woman,".
"She spoke to me in December and asked me 'What are these boys doing to you? They don't know what they are getting themselves into.' She had this lovely giggle." says De Lille. "When someone klaps you, you don't give them the other cheek like the Bible says; you klap them back."
Lately, De Lille has been finding her own ways to cope with the stress that she is currently under. She plays the occasional round of golf as well as going running to relax. "I do road running like 10km races. You need balance."
It is clear the Patricia De Lille will not be backing down any time soon.
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