Sealed with a kiss

2014-04-02 08:00

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Denvor de Wee travels to Hout Bay, where he hooks up with former 26’s gang member Blits and his friend Pietie Boy

A gangster and a seal sharing a bond like no other over at least three decades. This is the friendship that David “Blits” Abrahams has with Pietie Boy, a seal at Hout Bay, which he describes as his “best friend”.

For 32 years, former 26’s gangster Blits has been seeing his friend Pietie Boy and teaching him tricks, much to the delight of tourists. He trained the seal for eight years and now Abrahams feeds the giant sea beast sardines straight from his own mouth.

It is what tourists come back for every time and Abrahams (51) is excited because this is the only way he can make an honest, but daring, living. With this income, Blits is able to take care of his 81-year-old mother, Veronica.

His complex but special friendship with Pietie Boy is a happy one and works on a first-name basis, Blits says.

“He won’t come out of the water if I don’t call him by his name,” Blits says. If Blits doesn’t visit the seals for a few days, Pietie Boy swims further to Seal Island until he returns.

Blits has also trained Pietie Boy not to bite the tourists and his absence from Hout Bay can cost his mentor financially since Blits has no other source of income.

Blits says he has difficulty forming friendships with the younger seals. “They become aggressive when I don’t have enough fish to feed them. There’s a younger seal who knows how much fish he’s being fed and when it’s not enough he just swims away.”

Feeding the seals and entertaining tourists has been a blessing for Blits, who is adamant he will not return to jail.

“I don’t want to return to prison and teach the youngsters the 26’s gang languages. I’m too old for that. When I met Pietie Boy, I threw the number away. I’m now focused on an honest survival. With this money I can buy bread, electricity and other essentials for my mother and I.”

Six years ago, Blits took his nephew Maxwell under his wing and taught him the trade of feeding the seals. Today, Maxwell is a father of one and shares a house with his girlfriend. Maxwell earns up to R130 a day, which is enough to provide for his young family.

But harbour officials have begun employing guards to stop people from feeding the seals, so Blits, his nephew Maxwell and others like them have to dodge the authorities to entertain tourists and make a living.

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