Caps for Africa!


“I’d gone to play golf in Caledon and discovered that I hadn’t brought along my cap. Then we heard about a woman who sold such things and I bought one of those caps with the tassels from her.”

Ever since then the caps have just kept accumulating, says Bennie, manager of a company that rents out building equipment. “Sometimes I buy caps but often I just get them from people.”

When his children, Madeleine (now 37), Cornell (now 35) and Jo-Marie (now 33), had grown up and went to work overseas, they’d bring him caps on their return “Today I have exactly 731 caps mounted on my walls and ceiling. People hear that I’m a collector and send them to me. Some people tell me they have a lot of caps, then it turns out to be just 30 or 40. They find it hard to believe I have more than 700!”

And don’t think Bennie’s collection is a disordered jumble of hats! He has all the caps in his collection meticulously recorded. “I arrange them alphabetically. So when someone asks if I have a Caltex cap, I can quickly check.” When he gets a “double” he keeps it to exchange with other collectors.

Bennie’s wife, Dalene (60), supports his hobby and likes to show off his collection to visitors. “She just complains that it gathers dust. Unfortunately that’s true but I just say we’ll clean it up one day . . .”

Among his caps is one that was apparently worn by the late comedian Tolla van der Merwe at the premiere of his movie Tolla is Tops and a Handigas cap bearing the signature of former cricket captain Hansie Cronjé. “I also have quite a few with trademarks that no longer exist.” Special caps include some that were fashioned out of pieces of Ohlssons and Overberg Lager beer cans, brands that are no longer around.

As owner of this collection you’d think Bennie goes around  permanently wearing a cap. “No, I actually very seldom wear a cap ? only when I’m out walking in the sun!”

-Suzaan Hauman

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