Kimberley, South Africa


Cecil Jack Sussman - Mayor of Kimberley 1964 - 1965

Cecil writes in February 2018: Kimberley had been very good to the Sussman families, (see the family story below) so when, despite my youth, I was approached by several civic organisations to contest a municipal by-election, I agreed. With the support of Natalie, I allowed my name to go forward for the election.

We were completely inexperienced in civic matters, but with Natalie taking charge of our campaign, I set about working towards the goal of winning the election.

My opponent was a well-known hotelier, and it was assumed he would do very well. However, under the leadership of Natalie, the voters supported us, and I won the election to the City Council. I must mention that this was before politics in council affairs. Today councillors are paid very handsomely, whereas we gave our services completely voluntarily.

On being welcomed into Council, I was allotted several portfolios, among which were the Kimberley School Board and the William Humphreys Art Gallery. Together with several other donors, Sussman Bros contributed to a new wing to house their additional works of art. Of all the many portfolios that I was connected with – these two were my favourites. I felt I could contribute something meaningful to them, as art and music played a big part in my life.

I spent ten happy years as a Councillor, Deputy Mayor and Mayor, with my gracious wife Natalie by my side. Our 3 lovely children, Sandra, Jeff and Laura shared these years, young as they were. We included them where possible – they joined us at inaugurations, and as part of the welcoming civic reception applauding Kimberley girl Karen Muir, on her return home, after becoming the world swimming champion, at the age of 12.

My rise in the Council was rather rapid, and in April 1964 I was chosen as Mayor, although only 39 years old. Coincidentally my first civic function was to welcome Mr Harry Oppenheimer (opening the Kimberley Show) who’s illustrious father Sir Ernest, had been a former Mayor.

As it was the Mayor’s prerogative to invite guests to civic functions, I included many of the younger community members. On being elected mayor, a Mayoral Sunday is held to mark the occasion, and in my case, it was naturally in our beautiful Shul, with Rabbi Werner (the Mayor’s Chaplain) officiating.

During my term I tried very valiantly to get tertiary education for Kimberley, and often flew to Pretoria to interview several Ministers in this matter. However, my pleas fell on deaf ears. I am pleased to know that to-day Kimberley has a university. I was also very outspoken on the subject of a new station for Kimberley and a new market.

Kimberley was enjoying post war boom years, when new suburbs were established, a Technical College and a beautiful theatre were inaugurated, and we were indeed privileged to host many international dignitaries.  I was Mayor when the first electric train arrived in Kimberley. My personal venue preference for civic functions was the William Humphreys Art Gallery. Vera Lynn, the sweetheart of the armed forces of world war 2, was entertained by us in the Mayor’s Parlour in the new civic centre. Rawicz and Landauer, world renown duo pianists performed at the Theatre and we had the pleasure of entertaining them. We hosted a civic reception for the Cape Town Orchestra celebrating their 75th anniversary year. Marion Friedman a talented pianist and child prodigy, also performed in the city at this time. We had a visit by a Colonel Laing, who was the sole survivor of the battle of Magersfontein, during the Anglo Boer war. I also had the honour and pleasure of conferring the Freedom of the City on Russel Elliot.

Russel Elliot was a practicing attorney in the city, who used his influence and drive for years, to get the Technical College for Kimberley. He also very cleverly persuaded the Public Works Department to erect our beautiful theatre in the guise of an “Assembly hall“ for the college. He was an ardent supporter of the Kimberley Show, and it was due to his enthusiasm that this event went on for very many years. Russel was also a very keen Rotarian and contributed to many of the club’s achievements. The only other “Freeman” of the city of Kimberley was William Humphreys.

Natalie, was often called upon to perform civic duties, which she carried out with obvious enjoyment and dignity as she is a quintessential people person and enjoyed meeting people and entertaining official guests. I worked with dedicated Municipal officials, from the Town Clerk to Willie, the driver of CC1, (a Daimler purchased during my term, costing R11,000 - the price of a bicycle to-day.)

Many Jews served as City Councillors over the years. During the period I served on the Council, we had two living Jewish ex-Mayors, Gustave Haberfeld (1953-1955) and Lionel Jawno (1959-1961). Previously William Sagar (1906-1908) Ernest Oppenheimer (1913-1915) and Bernard Cohen 1931-1932) had also occupied the Mayoral Chair. Gus became Mayor again after me, in 1965-1967.

After 10 years of service to the City Council, I felt it was time to devote more attention to my family and business. It was with reluctance that I retired, after having enjoyed the challenges and rewards of serving my city.

I was honoured by having a street in Kimberley named after me.

Cecil Sussman, Cape Town, February 2018

Cecil Jack Sussman – Family history

Cecil was born in Kimberley in 1924. His siblings were a brother Leonard and sister Cynthia (Hesselson), both now deceased and a Sister Daphne (Furman) b 1933 now living in Auckland, New Zealand.

Cecil’s mother, Gertrude (Hoffman) was born in Johannesburg in 1895. She arrived in Kimberley in 1918 and worked as a Nursing Sister. She died in 1960 aged 65 and is buried Kimberley.  Her parents were Israel and Zelda Hoffman (who lived till aged 98) of Johannesburg.    

Cecil’s father Kollen (Kalman) Sussman was born in Taverig, Lithuania. He arrived in Kimberley in 1912 to join his elder brother Philip, who had come out in 1900. The family had a background in dairy farming, so it was natural for Philip to turn to what he knew best – farming. He acquired farms in the Kimberley area, farming with cattle and sheep.  By 1912, his business had expanded so much that Philip was able to send for his brothers, Isaac (who became a diamond buyer) and Guttel, Kollen, and George who joined him in the business.

Sussman Brothers now acquired several more farms in the Kimberley district and prospered as farmers, livestock dealers and entrepreneurs in the Meat industry. They established Kimberley Ranching Co and the Premier Meat Supply, the most significant butcher shop in Kimberley in De Beers Road, which had a kosher counter in operation for many decades. Kollen was regarded by his peers as an expert judge on the weight of livestock and was seldom out by even a kilo. In 1935 Philip left to pursue other interests, amongst which was horse racing – in which he was also successful, one of his horses, Sun Tor, having won a Durban July.

Kollen died in 1968 aged 77 and is buried in Kimberley. Cecil mentioned – when I asked about him - that Jack Sussman – married to Sadie and father of Leon, was a cousin of his father Kollen and was also in the meat trade in Kimberley with Newton Meat Market in Jones Street – but not part of Sussman Bros – rather in opposition. You can see Leon Chonin’s table of Kimberley businesses here

Cecil says growing up in Kimberley was ‘The very best’. He matriculated from CBC and then joined the South African 6th Division and served in Italy for 2 years, after which he went in to the family business. Cecil says: I Joined Sussman Bros in 1946, in all its activities. In 1966, two years before my father died, I took over the management and running of the farming enterprises, attending monthly livestock sales in Griquatown, which I continued doing until I left Kimberley in 1973, to make a new home for my family, who were at university in Cape Town.

Interesting to note is that one of the Sussman farms "Platfontein" was sold and later bought by the South African resettle the Khoi San or Bushman of Namibia, who had been used by the South African army in the war with Angola because if their superb tracking skills. And then, when they lost the war they pulled them out of Namibia where most were born (as they might suffer revenge) and resettled (imprisoned?) these ancient independent and nomadic people in a tent city near Schmidtsdrift overseen by the army. This is an ongoing story with frustrations and delays in getting land of their own and has resonances for the Jewish community of migration and displacement and how the children are becoming assimilated etc. Dan Jacobson writes about this in ‘The Electronic Elephant’ and there are references on the net including here and -- this last one also tells of the fantastic rock engraving right on the doorstep of Kimberley. Did you know about that?  I did not in my time from 1940 – 1957. Now there are tours and trails to see all this.  But Cecil Sussman did.  


Cecil has sent these photographs of those engravings that were on his farm. He says: ‘Whilst farming at Platfontein, I came across beautiful rock engravings and after a while realised that they were important and that they were being vandalised and that some form of protection was necessary. I contacted the McGregor Museum in Kimberley, (established in 1907, and now housed in the Old Sanatorium where Rhodes spent the Siege of Kimberley and which later became a hotel and then the convent girls school After discussions with the museum directors, I decided to fence off the koppie where the engravings were. The site is only 15 Ks from the border of Galeshewe village, on the road to Barkly West. The koppie was very near the road and people would climb through the fence to see the engravings, and often deface them. It is believed that the engravings are many thousands of years old. I would presume that they are still preserved.

On 12 March 1949, Cecil married Kimberley girl, Natalie (Kroll). 

(See their wedding picture left and on the gallery of Kimberley weddings). The marriage was solemnised by Rev Chaim Goldberg who was the assistant to the Rabbi from 1925 – 1955. (see the tribute to Rev Goldberg by Leon Chonin here Cecil and Natalie gave a lot of time and energy to Kimberley Jewish, business and civic life until 1973 when the family left Kimberley.

Cecil wrote to me in March 2017, ‘Dear Geraldine, Thank you for your eagerly-awaited and very interesting newsletters, and especially for including Natalie and myself. I really enjoy “revisiting” my old roots, as I have such pleasant memories of my stay in Kimberley, and you have made it possible’.

He mentioned that ‘Natalie and I had been closely associated with the Bergman /Kretzmar families throughout the Kimberley years. Natalie remembers fondly how your mother introduced her, as a young bride of 20, to the Union of Jewish Women, and took her under her wing.  I spent many a day in the home of your cousins the Hendlers in Milner street, being very friendly with Owen, and Natalie and I were very friendly with your aunt Eileen and uncle Archie. Moreover, Solly Frank (your uncle Jack’s brother) was Natalie’s uncle. I also had the pleasure of presenting Brenda Frank (now Danilowitz in Connecticut) with the Council Gold Medal for her outstanding school results. Your cousin Philip Kretzmar and our son Jeff were very friendly and were together throughout their school days.’ 

He noted that: ‘It has been mentioned that Anita (Frank - wife of Masel) daughter of widower Bernard Cohen was his Mayoress In fact, it was his other daughter, Francis who was Mayoress during the term of Bernard Cohen. There was also another sister Ruth Cohen, who was married to Issie Brodie, a dentist. During the war years Ruth, together with Bertie Sperber became traffic officers in order to release the incumbents so that they could join the army.’

(see the complex history of the frank family here

In 1973 when Cecil was 49 years old, the family left Kimberley to set up a new home in Cape Town where their children were at University.

Cecil and Natalie have three children, Sandra now Mallach, who lives in Johannesburg, Jeffrey, living in Melbourne with his wife Diana, and his children and grandchildren, who is a Cyber Risk Management Consultant, and Laura and her husband Michael Radomsky, a retired attorney, who live in the same block of flats in Sea Point as Cecil and Natalie, much to their mutual pleasure. This month, on 12 March 2018, Cecil and Natalie will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary.

They have 6 grandchildren and 9 greatgrandchildren, living in Australia and London.

Compiled by Geraldine Auerbach MBE from information received from Cecil and other research.

London, March 2018

Natalie and Cecil Sussman Married 70 years 

Natalie and Cecil Sussman were due to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on 12 March 2019. Their family came to Cape Town from Johannesburg, Melbourne and London to be with them. How sad therefore, that just two weeks before the special date, their daughter Sandra died. Cecil said that it was a great shock that after only 2 weeks of feeling ill, Sandy passed away. There had previously been no sign of anything untoward – and she was not yet 68. It was comforting for them to have their entire family around them to give them, and each other, strength at this sad – but also happy time.

Cecil wrote that the celebrations were cancelled, but ‘the little ones who had come all the way, were disappointed at not having a party, so they gathered as a family for tea. They have some wonderful family photos of 4 generations, to remind them of their 70th.

Cecil said “It was wonderful seeing the little ones, who had not previously met their cousins, getting to know and love one another (ages 6 months to 15 years)”


In this picture Cecil is seated in the middle with Natalie behind him. They had three children, Sandy (sadly deceased February 2019 – married to the late Trevor Mallach. They lived in Johannesburg) Jeff, married to Diana – living in Melbourne, and Laura

(married to Michael Radomsky, living in Cape Town).

Back row: Michael (Laura’s husband, Peter+Ros (their machatonim, Anthony’s parents)

Anthony+Lindi (Laura's daughter) Laura, Debbi (Laura's daughter) Natalie, Grant (Sandy's son) Erin +Ryan (Grant's children) Debbi (Grant's wife) Hayley (Kollen’s wife) and baby, Jeff (our son) Kollen (Jeff's son ) Diana (Jeff's wife).

Front row: Alexandra (Lindi's daughter) Cecil, Gabriella (Lindi's daughter) Camilla and Luna (Kollen's daughters)


Cecil Sussman sadly passed away in September 2019 in Cape Town. 

Natalie writes in April 2020

Dear Geraldine

Very interesting article or the website on the Grinna Shul . Cecil’s father Kollen Sussman and his friends attended daily services there. He always teased Cecil that this Was his version of the Kimberley Club and Cecil s Rotary Club.

I am fascinated reading your story of Alfred Beit. Your extensive research reveals his unrecognised influence on the Diamond Fields. My personal view is that Kimberley should have benefited more from the wealth of the diamonds and that the Griqua tribe should have prospered. Rhodes Is not my favourite. The Boer War was a cruel and unjust war instigated by Rhodes.

You and Cecil bonded and we are very grateful to you for ensuring that the memories have been captured for future generations. The downside of this lockdown is too much time and I miss Cecil every minute of every day. He was a very special man.

Stay well and enjoy the unusual Peisach we will all experience

Love Natalie

P S Dov Senderowitz did come from Taungs


Sussman, Cecil and Natalie (nee Kroll)