Wolwerivier gets first medical facility thanks to Swedish family, who lost a loved one in Cape Town

2018-09-14 06:38
Aksel Otterbeck, 19, while volunteering (Supplied)

Aksel Otterbeck, 19, while volunteering (Supplied)

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A "healing" bond has been forged between the residents of Wolwerivier relocation camp, north of Cape Town, and a family living in the Scandinavian country of Sweden more than 10 000km away, whose son was knocked down and killed a few years ago.

Thanks to the generosity of Aksel Otterbeck's family and friends, and the persistence of an activist looking out for the community, enough money was raised to build the isolated area's first medical facility.

The Wolwerivier facility is housed in a shipping container and proudly bears the name "Aksel's Memorial Clinic", with a small painted red cross in the middle.

Activist Nikki Pretorius provides basic medical services to residents, many who are long-term patients, and a doctor volunteers for two hours on a Wednesday to write prescriptions.

Residents have previously shared their struggle to access key services and the expense and scarcity of public transport, because of the camp's location. 

After Otterbeck was killed in Table View in December 14, 2016, his grieving dad Jesper asked people to donate money for the worthy cause instead of sending flowers, he explained to News24 in a Skype interview.

The family visited the clinic last month while in the country for the trial of Darryl Futter in the Cape Town Regional Court.

Jesper, one of his daughters Emily, and Aksel's friend Adam and his father Per, listened as witnesses described Futter's alleged "intoxicated behaviour" and how they heard a loud bang before seeing two people lying in the middle of the road.


Futter, who is expected back in court on Friday, has pleaded not guilty to charges of culpable homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol, reckless and/or negligent driving and two counts of assault.

"Aksel was on a gap year when he did his volunteer work in Cape Town," his dad said.

He worked as a scaffolder in the UK for two months to save money and had planned to work in Australia for six months after leaving South Africa.

He would have studied Nanotechnology and Physics at one of Sweden's premier universities upon his return home.

"South Africa has almost an epidemic of drunk driving incidents, and despite relatively strong laws on drunk driving, the percentage of convictions with serious sentences like jail time is low," said Jesper.

He said it was tough being in court and he was aware that cases could take years to conclude because of overworked police and heavy caseloads.

"Nothing will ever bring my son back, but there should at least be some justice," said Jesper.


The isolated temporary relocation camp of Wolwerivier has its first medical facility, because of a funding scheme by the family of a Swedish volunteer killed in Cape Town, and the persistence of an activist who has been helping the community. (Supplied)

Pretorius has been working with Wolwerivier residents for many years, many who were relocated from Skandaalkamp, and started a preschool for them.

She completed her first aid course and raised funds for a clinic along with the Kilroy Foundation after noticing the desperate need for healthcare.

"One little girl in Skandaalcamp was pushed by a friend and bumped her head on a rock one Friday but because no one tended to her wound, by Monday she had meningitis," she explained on Thursday.

"Little things not taken care of become much bigger things."

Because of its isolation, the waiting time for an ambulance could be quite long. And the ambulance drivers did not always know where to drive to.

Pretorius said there was an ongoing need for medical supplies, especially for long-term patients.

Eight children who had eczema needed regular medication, while a lady who had leg ulcers required ongoing care.

It cost R500 a day in dressings for a woman who had burns to 20% of her body because of a hot-water spill.

"The spaces they occupy are very small so there are a lot of domestic incidents, even little babies with burn wounds."

Jesper said he had sent out another email to his network for anyone who wanted to contribute to medical supplies.

"When you are sitting in Europe far away from this kind of poverty in townships, it is not as easy to see what kind of impact R1 000 or small money can have. When you are here, it is a different matter."

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