RUDOLPH PLATO: RESPECTED PRINCIPAL,RUGBY PLAYER AND COMMUNITY LEADER
Rudolph Plato was born inSwellendam on 9 August 1941 as the eldest son of Daniël and Jacoba Plato. His father worked as a railway official, andthey lived in one of their houses next to the railway line. The family consisted of ten children of whom fourare still alive. Their parents gave themthe best possible education, despite their meagre income. As a result, all the children becamewell-qualified professionals (mostly teachers), with one son obtaining aMaster’s degree. The youngest, Dan, wasthe executive mayor of Cape Town.
Rudolph attended the St Luke’sAnglican School in Somerset Street up to Grade 8 (Standard 6). He attended Emil Weder High School inGenadendal to complete his Matric in 1961. He worked for two years in Worcester before enrolling at BridgtonCollege of Education in Oudtshoorn to obtain the Primary Teachers’ Certificateat the end of 1965. He later went toHewat College of Education to do the Primary Higher Teachers’ Certificate. Afterwards he enrolled at Roggebaai Collegeof Education to obtain his Advanced Primary Teachers’ Certificate (Fourth Year)by means of distance education. Therefore,he was well-qualified for all promotion posts at primary school level.
He married Mildred Pekeur on 29May 1963, a local teacher and the daughter of Johannes Pekeur, a rugby legendof Swellendam. They had four children (Wendy, Dion, Gail and Roché). The passing of their youngest son, Roché, twoyears ago at the age of forty-six years, was a huge blow to the family. (Mildredtaught at various schools in the district and spent her last teaching years atSwellendam Secondary School as the subject head of English.)
Rudolph spent his teaching yearsas the principal of a farm school. Hestarted at Olivedale Primary School, moved to Proseskop Primary School and concludedhis career at Uitvlug Primary School in 1993. There is, obviously, some history attached to the fact that this outstandingeducator was never appointed as a principal of a bigger school.
Rudolph has fond memories ofthose years. He is intensely private andhardly speaks about the additional contributions he made to help his learners whowere extremely poor and often needed extra material assistance. Nevertheless, it is clear that he motivated severalof them to persevere and become successful citizens. A few years ago Jeffrey Philander,
one of his ex-learners, visitedhim and told him that he had obtained a Doctorate in Philosophy and that heascribed his success to the guidance he received from mentors like Rudolph..
Rudolph excelled as a rugbyplayer and a leader in this field. He played this sport at primary school andwhen he entered high school, he really bloomed, and this continued until hestopped playing. In addition, he wasoften chosen as the captain of his teams. His leadership skills were put to beneficial use in all the teams forwhich he played, like those of Emil Weder High School, Bridgton College, Oaksin Swellendam, SWD Union, SWD League andSWD Board. Furthermore, he is the onlyplayer ever to have played for all three of these regional teams. He was so talented that he would certainlyhave become a Springbok if he had peaked twenty years later.
Not only did he do well as aplayer, but also as an administrator and community leader. In 1995, when Swellendam Rugby Club and OaksRugby Club became one, after much negotiation, he was elected to become thefirst president. He stayed in thisposition until 2006. In 2016 he wasasked to become the honorary president of this club. Until today he is highly respected not only bythe rugby community of the town, but also the rest of the Swellendammers. He received various accolades, like theUnsung Hero Award which the Railton Foundation bestowed on him in 2018. This is not surprising because he has displayedoutstanding leadership qualities from an early age. For example, he reacted strongly to bullying. At high school already the weaker and youngerlearners knew that they could go to Rudolph, if they were bullied. Those responsible for their distress, couldexpect serious trouble if they were not prepared to mend their ways.
Rudolph believes that a leadershould take the lead and display courage in order to encourage his/herfollowers to follow suit in the interest of others and themselves.
In his lifetime of more than eightyyears he has done enough to qualify as a worthy recipient of this award. Therefore, I strongly recommend him.