Producer David Max Brown remembers legend and close friend John W Fredericks in moving statement

David Max Brown and John W Fredericks on the last day of shooting 'Noem My Skollie'. (Photo: Supplied by David Max Brown)
David Max Brown and John W Fredericks on the last day of shooting 'Noem My Skollie'. (Photo: Supplied by David Max Brown)

Cape Town - South African author and filmmaker John W. Fredericks, 73, died on Sunday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year. 

John was perhaps best known for his book, Skollie, which was based on his life experiences and also told on the big screen in the acclaimed local film, Noem My Skollie.

David Max Brown, producer of Noem My Skollie and close friend of John, paid tribute to him in moving statement on Sunday night. 

"We knew it was coming but when the news of John’s passing actually came, around mid-day on Sunday, it was devastating," the film and TV producer wrote.

"John W. Fredericks the legend, has passed on but his legacy as 'The Weaver of Dreams' will continue to burn bright, be it on the big screen, or on the pages of the TV dramas he wrote, or the many stage-plays, or the documentaries he directed or his recent autobiography, simply titled, Skollie and which takes the reader through his entire life in a series of fast-paced chapters that are 'unputdownable'".

According to David he first met John in Cape Town on the steps of the Artscape Theatre in 2002 and so began a long journey that grew into a friendship of great mutual respect.

This resulted in the two working together on a documentary in 2005, Freedom is a Personal Journey, with director, Akiedah Mohamed, and in 2016 they teamed up for the South African box-office hit Noem My Skollie that John wrote and which was also South Africa’s entry to the foreign language Oscars. The film depicts John’s life from teenager to manhood.

David added: "Since John’s early years as a teenager on the dusty streets of Kewtown he told stories and never stopped. It was storytelling that saved his life in Pollsmoor, a jail that he and many other convicts helped to build. It was storytelling that eventually made him a household name amongst the Coloured community of Western Cape and it was story telling that saved his life again in February this year when he wrote so eloquently about his Nightmare at Groote Schuur. The massive social media and newspaper response turned the tables on the way the hospital treated him but also significantly changed their internal training and ward policies to boot! 

"John made his dreams come true. For all those who worked with him we know that we were blessed to have been on this journey and to dream our dreams in his company. John had an amazing capacity to remember his life in great detail, perhaps because so many of his life moments were life-changing or indeed life-and-death situations, but above all what shone through was his love and respect for his wife Una, and for their immediate and extended family and friends. 

"John was also a man who knew that crime and poverty would not go away of its own accord and so he spent most of his life working with young offenders in jails around the Western Cape. His aim was to encourage young people to find a constructive place in society instead of working against it and against themselves. 

"Long live John W. Fredericks and may many more pick up his pen and his fighting spirit!"