Home of famous Afrikaans poet destroyed in Paarl blaze

The homestead on Tuesday morning (Jean Oosthuizen, Facebook)
The homestead on Tuesday morning (Jean Oosthuizen, Facebook)

Cape Town – The home of the prominent Afrikaans writer and poet better known as Totius was destroyed by wildfires on the Augusta Kleinbosch estate on Tuesday.

Totuis, whose real name was Jacob Daniël du Toit, was largely responsible for translating the Bible into Afrikaans.

He died in 1953 and left behind several collections of poems, including Trekkerswee (Trekkers' Grief) and Passieblomme (Passion Flowers).

According to a waitress at the Augusta Kleinbosch estate, the restaurant on the estate was still open on Monday evening.

"We had some guest from Germany, Hamburg, and we had dinner. The wind was blowing... it was like tornado, it was blowing heavy," Susan Arendse told News24 on Tuesday.

The flames spread to the property in the early hours of the morning.

"In the early morning, half past three, the fires started on the [Du Toit’s Kloof] mountains and within minutes the fires came down here," Arendse said.

'Many memories are gone'

Arendse, who has worked on the farm for four years, said she was heartbroken by the incident.

"[I am] shocked. This is a historical place and these many memories are gone and it’s sad. It’s sad. We are like a family here," she said.

The owners of Augusta Kleinbosch were seen on the property, but did not want to speak to News24.

News24 reported that fires on the Du Toit’s Kloof Mountain started at 23:00 on Monday. Winds quickly fanned the flames, spreading the fires to several farms in the area, and damaging at least eight buildings.

Incident spokesperson Justin Lawrence said that the South African Airforce has been deployed to the area to water-bomb the blaze.

According to incident command head Derrick Pearce, 100 firefighters were currently fighting the fires on the Wellington side of the mountains.

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