The Victorian double-storey home in Mowbray where Rosalie Bloch, 84, and Aubrey Jackson, 94, were murdered two weeks ago provided a refuge over the years to many people from all walks of life

This was according to family and friends who gathered for their memorial service at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on Thursday to honour the couple who were tied up and killed on 5 May.

The couple has a total of 10 children, including struggle veteran and education expert Graeme Bloch. Bloch is married to former politician Cheryl Carolus.

“Their door was always open to whoever needed a safe space,” said one of their grandchildren, Sarah Bloch.

“They would let seven or eight of us pile into a room next to theirs after a night out. They loved having us there. They loved having anyone there.”

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Shaun Bloch said his mother was “no ordinary soccer mom”.

A loving home

Besides raising strong children, she also stood for social justice and acted as a “rock and tower of strength” during apartheid.

On her dining room wall was her favourite quote about never doubting that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens could change the world.

“She taught us the value of a loving home. She ensured the mansion was a warm, beating heart and a loving family home.”

Carolus spoke fondly about the couple’s generosity and increasing softness over the years as grandchildren arrived.

In January, the whole family bunked up at the Mowbray home for the “annual Bloch fest”.

The couple accepted that they needed to upgrade their security, she said, while the family also accepted that they loved living there.

A haven for activists

“We are so sad and angry that they came to such a brutal end in such a beloved home,” Carolus said.

Political activists also found refuge in their house.

Lance Bloch said his mother, one of the first female lawyers in the country, provided a haven for UDF members and located the children of activists who were moved around by the security police.

Their phones were tapped and police often parked outside the home in unmarked cars.

A packed Baxter theatre burst out in laughter when he said he recently found files his mother had kept of all the family’s achievements.

“She probably had more and bigger files [on us] than the security police!”

Call for justice

Former finance minister Trevor Manuel recalled the good times he had in Wolmunster Road with one of his political “mothers”, Rosalie.

“We came into the house as part of a group of crazy 30-something-year-old activists, who believed we could change the world,” he said.

“We were tolerated in the most amazing fashion by Rosalie in that home for meetings. People like ourselves from the [Cape] Flats had never seen the splendour of the house and the door was always open to us.”

Manuel called for justice and for the police to properly investigate what motivated the killer/s “to be this cruel against a couple who lived frugally”.

“Virtually no material possessions were taken… These murders leave a huge void.”

He thanked them for being an example of life and love.

A luta continua

Struggle stalwart Denis Goldberg, who has terminal cancer, also attended the service and made his first speech in public in more than a year.

Rosalie stayed in London with Goldberg’s late wife Esme, while he was in the dock for the Rivonia Trial.

“It was worth coming to honour your parents for their values and the ideas they perpetuated,” he said from his wheelchair.

“As we say in our movement, a luta continua. We have to be part of building something new and what is right for South Africa, and condemning those who violate the Constitution with their racism every day.”