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15 April 2013, 15:00

Sarel was born and grew up in a small Northern Cape agricultural town. His father was a “by-woner” and from an early age Sarel had to work the fields and assist elsewhere on the patch of land allotted to them. He was one of the less lucky children who did not go to school due to the meagre income of his parents and his physical ability to work on the farm stood in his way to an education.

His mother died while he was still very young while his father ran the business of providing food on the table. World War two had just fired its final shots and food for the nation was a priority.  Sarel’s educational abilities were about the equivalence of standard 2. His reading and arithmetical skills were basic. When Sarel married, his father invited him and his new-found wife to a dinner at a local restaurant. The dinner was a hamburger each. As time moved on so Sarel was compelled to find viable work to support the wife and two kids. He found a job on the railways and worked in the stores for a pittance but in his case any job was a good job.

During the year 2000 I owned a large allotment South of Bloemfontein. My main concern being vegetables and sheep. Having the work done was quite a problem and later in Kimberley I was introduced to Sarel who had been retrenched by the railways, had bought a V8 Ford, paying with his retrenchment package and hence unable to feed his expanded family. His wife had divorced him and he became a hobo, eating off the streets and begging for a few rands. I signed him up as a temporary worker and Sarel was in the seventh heaven.                                                                                                   

He was well paid and received 4 meals a day and a copious supply of coke. Sarel was addicted to coke and became rather truculent when it was not available. His forte was the construction and installation of several gates interlinking the 3 plots. Then we noticed something out of the normal. When the required numbers of gates were installed he would simply pull down the fence at a different point and install several gates again. Sarel was also addicted to tobacco and smoked about 30-40 cigarettes a day. He often complained about his health yet looked like he could fight a lion, He took several rest breaks during the day. My wife and I had planned to visit a family member in Kimberley and I suggested we take Sarel with us so that he could have a medical check-up. He was found to have heart problems and was kept in the hospital for some time. Friends organised a disability grant for Sarel and he stayed with friends when he came out of the hospital.

Some months later I sold the plots and purchased a house in Kimberley. I paid a visit to the people who took Sarel in after his hospital stay and was told he died a few months later. 



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