My Story: Danell van Driel


1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6! That’s how many boys sit around Robert (47) and Danell  (42) van Driel’s table at dinner time. And this year all six are at school.

Leendert (19) and Leon (17) are at Parel Vallei High School in Somerset West, RW (15) is at Paul Roos Gymnasium in Stellenbosch and the three youngest, Ernand (13), Rayner (10) and Durand (6), are at De Hoop Primary School in Somerset West. The boys’mom, Danell, says they get on well together despite their different personalities.

Robert is a production analyst and Danell is training as a hairdresser so she can work from home.

Danell says the first four children were planned pregnancies. “Then we stopped. But then I fell pregnant with the loop [contraceptive method]. I wasn’t happy about it; I thought we were finished.” But when she lost the baby (also a boy) at 18 weeks after complications, she decided she wanted another baby, which turned out to be another boy.

“Now there were five boys and there was one empty place at the dining table and number five had no one to share a room with.” Danell gave birth naturally to the first five boys but needed a Caesarian with Durand.

The family’s three-bedroom house has a two-bedroom, one-bathroom flat that Leendert and RW share. Leon has an outside room and his own bathroom, Ernand has his own room and Rayner and Durand share a room.

Don’t they eat Danell out of house and home? “They’re always eating something so I try to have fruit available. A box of Weet-Bix lasts for two days and we go through three loaves of bread a day.”

Each child packs his own lunchbox. “I don’t do it – all the orders take too long to prepare.”

Fortunately transport to school isn’t too much of a challenge. Leendert and Leon have motorcycles and RW takes a bus to Stellenbosch. He’s picked up and dropped off close to home. The three youngest’s school is just across the road so they walk. “We have a Chrysler seven-seater but it’s seldom that seven of us use it at a time. If necessary we use our second vehicle,” says Danell.

She sometimes wishes she had a daughter. “I didn't know it could be so difficult to fall pregnant with a girl! But for now I’m looking forward to all the daughters-in-law.”

-Suzaan Hauman

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