Zim aid shuttle

2010-04-28 00:00

VALVERITE’S Syd Kelly is among the Pietermaritzburg businesspeople who are helping to collect supplies for destitute pensioners in Zimbabwe.

Hannes Botha heads up the Zimbabwe Pensioners’ Supporter group which loads Zimbabwe-bound trucks with essentials like non-perishable food, toiletries and blankets every six weeks.

With the support of Kelly’s organisation, Neil’s Comfort Fund, Botha will take wheelchairs and walking aids along with other donated supplies during his next trip to the country.

Botha started the support group eight years ago when he visited his home country, Zimbabwe. Political and financial instability caused thousands of elderly citizens to lose their entire pension funds, leaving them without even the bare essentials.

“Someone asked me to take a parcel to their aunt in an old age home; when I walked into the building the old people were watching me like hawks. I thought, ‘Who is taking these people packages?’ I knew something had to be done,” Botha said.

It took Botha eight months to make up 36 food parcels with his own money. “When I took those parcels back to Zimbabwe, some were so overwhelmed they just started crying,” he said.

“I decided I needed to go out to get sponsors to fund these trips, and so far we have been really blessed. We have even had a truck donated to us by a dairy in Cape Town,” Botha said.

Now the group is a donor-based, registered, non-profit organisation. Botha said this is good news for its supporters as donations can be written off against tax.

Botha said some pensioners joke that their huge pensions — up to 85 million Zimbabwean dollars — cannot even buy a loaf of bread.

One Zimbabwean pensioner described her elation at seeing Botha and his trucks delivering goods. “I felt like cheering, but it’s unseemly for an old bird of 76 to start acting like 17,” she said.

“The times we are living in are so bleak and seemingly hopeless,” she added. According to the pensioner, the relief arrived while the suburb was experiencing its third day without water or electricity.

Botha said he hopes to make people aware of the fund, and he appealed to any individuals, businesses or organisations with the means to donate anything they can for the pensioners.

Kelly said he knows of many people from Zimbabwe living in Pietermaritzburg and Howick who would want to help the organisation.

He added that donations should be delivered to Valverite at 234 Victoria Road, where Botha can collect them.


Box: Bank details

Zimbabwe Pensioner Supporters Fund

FNB Malelane

Branch code: 270952

Account number: 62239042906

Contact Hannes Botha: 084 589 3221

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