Aberdeen Full Service School prefects


The prefects for 2018 for Aberdeen Full Service School (formerly known as Aberdeen Primary School) were announced recently, as well as the head prefects.

The head boy for 2018 is Christiaan van Rensburg, with Chutley Matiwana as his deputy. Melandre Kombani is head girl, and Anethe Grobbelaar deputy head girl. Other grade 6 pupils selected as prefects are Lee-Ann Flippies, Chantel Maarman, Kay-Lee Ann Motshweni, Lauren Ludick, Morne Heinse, Darren Kekana, Rewaldo Botha, and Avian Flippies.

As is the custom at the school, two boys and two girls from grade 5 are chosen to join the prefect body. This year, Kay-Lee Sedras, Mactroline Nobles, Garth Brown and Thulani Martins will fill those places.

The staff and parents of the school would like to congratulate all the learners chosen for these positions of responsibility, and wish them every success for the coming year.

Garden club


The grounds of Aberdeen Self Catering proved to be a perfect venue for the October meeting of Aberdeen’s Garden Club, sponsored by Starke Ayres and SSK Agriland.

Courtney Whittaker and Denise Hattingh from Starke Ayres travelled to Aberdeen for the day, and both speakers impressed the members and guests with their in-depth knowledge of their products.

Courtney spoke first, and spoke with humour and authority on fertilisers, seeds, and general garden care. Members were very interested in his demonstration of the properties of palm peat, a refined coconut product that retains water and is very useful in many areas from seed germination to garden plants. After the dry product had soaked for an hour or so, he was able to show how much water had been absorbed, which was very impressive.

A range of products to deter garden pests were also shown, with great interest in those to deter ants, cockroaches and mice particularly.

Throughout the talk, many products were given away to those asking questions, and a lucky draw was also held. Packets of seeds were also available on all the tables for members, and Adri Verwey of SSK Agriland also donated a bumper bag of products.

Denise then spoke about water saving and feeding plants, and explained the diiferences between organic and chemical fertilisers, both of which have advantages and disadvantages.

After a very welcome break for refreshments, Jadre Lategan and Estelle van Wyk then shared their experiences of making draped pots from cement and old towels. In a rather messy demonstration, they showed how an old towel, cement mix, vermiculite and peat moss could be used to fashion a most unusual pot for the garden. Some of the experimental  “failures” were also shown as a learning aid, with thin material that was not suitably robust or absorbent being the main problem. Overall, members were very impressed with the ingenuity of these two “crafty” ladies!

Kamdeboo Primary sports stars

Kamdeboo Primary School in Lotusville recently held their interhouse sports day for pupiils in all age groups from 5 to 13 years. The day was enjoyed by all, with good spirit, and many promising athletes were identified for the future.

A team was also chosen to compete in a Dr Beyers Naude local municipality competition at the Collie Koeberg stadium the following weekend. Kamdebo was the only Aberdeen school to send a team, and they competed against Narsing Street, Graaff-Reinet Primary,  and Kroonvale Primary Schools from Graaff-Reinet, Lettie de Klerk PS from Nieu Bethesda, Nqweba Secondary, and teams from the More Ster and Camdeboo Athletics Clubs. The age groups represented were from 9 to 19.

The Kamdeboo athletes all acquitted themselves well, coming home with a total of fifteen medals.

Sakhiwe Meintjies won the gold medal in both the 100m and 200m sprints in the U13 age group for boys, and Asha Swartz won the corresponding events for girls. Jaedene Nyssen won the girls U12 1200m event.

Silver medals were awarded to Kay-Lee Markgraaf in the U13 100m sprint, Jayden Jacobs (boys U12 100m and 150m), Chivago Ambraal (girls U12 100m and 200m), Ethan Job (boys U12 100m and 80m) and Ashley Williams (boys U10 100m and 80m).

Elroy Rittels came third in the both boys U13 100m and 200m. In the U10 age group, Elmondo Joy and Deroulene Riettels both received bronze medals for the 80m and 100m sprints.

Coaches Daniel Pieterse, Malinda Saayman, Estoline Vrolik and Niel Pienaar accompanied the athletes, and are very proud of their achievements, and their good sportsmanship.

Cancer awareness event


The Aberdeen clinic Committee hosted a Cancer day event last Sunday afternoon at the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Thembalesizwe, which was well attended.

The theme was “break the silence and voice out”, aiming to encourage people not to be afraid to talk about the disease.

All guests were given a pink ribbon to pin on their tops, and several of the organisers and guests were dressed to the theme of pink- even the programmes were printed on deep pink paper.

Interspersed with frequent impromptu singing, the event consisted of a number of speakers as well as local entertainment.

Maria Jeggels’ group of Spiritual Dancers performed with grace, and the choral items from the Congregational Church Male Choir and Mloza Junior Voices were top class. Catherine Kalaka’s rich voice was also inspiring. The young children of Mloza Voices were very well behaved throughout the programme, and their strong young voices were a delight.

Programme director Maria Jacobs, Chris Afrika, and Phillip Finnis all spoke of their experience with cancer, whether with family members, or, in Finnis’s case, his own diagnosis and treatment.

The main guest speaker was Veronica Muller, the non-communicable diseases manager of the Camdeboo subdistrict  at the Department of Health in Graaff-Reinet. Muller spoke with authority and engaged the audience well. She talked about the taboo that not only prevents many from seeking help, but also causes them to hide a cancer diagnosis from friends and even family. She explained about the importance of self-testing- by breast examination for women, and men for testicular cancer. Unfortunately many men in particular are reluctant to be examined by a female nurse, and she related that when she wanted to talk about prostate cancer at the clinic, most of the men walked out.

Muller’s main message was that people need to take responsibility for their own health, by taking preventative measures and having regular check-ups.

Charmaine van Gent from the clinic committee presented Muller with a plant, as a token of appreciation. Yvonne Frazenburg talked about the symbolic candle for all sufferers, which on the day was surrounded by several fluffy teddy bears. These had been brought along by guest Jean Watermeyer, Aberdeen’s representative for the Graaff-Reinet and District Cancer Association. The sale of the bears, which were donated to the Cancer Association, has brought in several thousands of rands for the Association, and the three that had been brought to Sunday’s event were soon snapped up.

Nthuthu Poswa gave a word of thanks, and then all involved in the afternoon’s entertainment gathered on the stage for a final few songs.


Tragic death of well-known actor Deon Stewardson

The news of the sudden death of actor Deon Stewardson recently has shocked and saddened members of the Aberdeen community and indeed caused an outpouring of grief worldwide.

In the weeks leading up to his death, he had expressed the wish to his partner, Marianne Meijer, to spend a few days away from Aberdeen for a break, but due to various commitments, this did not materialise.

Last Thursday morning, whilst Meijer was at a meeting, he told their domestic worker that he was going away for a while, and left with his overnight bag. According to the worker, the bag was empty. He had taken his phone, but not his ID book or driver’s licence.  On her return from the meeting, Meijer was not overly concerned at first, but became increasingly worried when she was unable to reach Stewardson on his cellphone.

She continued to try to contact him on Friday, and then at about 5pm she received a visit from Warrant Officer Patrick Samson of the Graaff-Reinet police, with the dreadful news that Deon’s body had been found. W/O Samson had the unenviable task of explaining that he had taken his own life in the bathroom of an accommodation establishment in Graaff-Reinet. A note was found in his pocket, giving Meijer’s name and address.

Stewardson had booked into the establishment on Thursday, and was not in his room when a member of the cleaning staff went in at about 9am on Friday. When he had not checked out by 1pm, the staff became concerned, and the cleaner returned, finding the bathroom door locked. She contacted the manager, who in turn called the police. They managed to force the door open, and found Stewardson’s body.

Although she was obviously upset and shocked, the fact that he had taken his own life did not come as a surprise to Meijer and his close friends, as he had frequently talked about it. He was in constant pain from deterioration at the site of a previous injury to his knee, and this was making it extremely difficult and excruciatingly painful to even walk. Hard as it is to accept, Meijer has shown great strength in respecting his decision to go in his own time, and is certain that he would not have wanted to be confined to a wheelchair or be bedridden, and be a burden to her. He was adamant that he did not want surgery, and she admitted that he would not have had the patience for the extensive rehabilitation that would have been needed post-op.  She is very grateful that he showed consideration to her by not ending his life in their home, and is consoled by the fact, that “wherever he is now, I can picture him running and dancing again, free from pain”.

Meijer has been overwhelmed by the love and support shown to her during this difficult time, often by people she did not know well, but who wanted to honour their memories of Deon. Messages of condolence have poured in from family, friends, and fans from across the world. To her delight, her son and his wife arrived unexpected from England on Monday to give their support and share her burden.

Earlier this year, a great friend of Stewardson’s passed away, and this loss affected him deeply. The friend had been a great listener, and proved a ready foil for Stewardson’s outgoing nature. A few months ago he also sold a property in Aberdeen that was very dear to his heart, where he had put in a great deal of effort to create a peaceful garden haven.

Stewardson came to Aberdeen almost by accident in 2005, when he and his girlfriend at the time were on a road trip through small country towns. He fell in love with the unusual old house in Murray Street near the Dutch Reformed Church, and bought it. His girlfriend bought the adjoining property in van Riebeeck Street, and they combined the two. He thoroughly enjoyed restoring and reshaping the buildings, and when their relationship ended two years later, he bought the van Riebeeck Street property – he enjoyed telling everyone that he ended up paying his ex-girlfriend about three times what she had paid for it originally! He lived in it for a while, and after he moved in with Meijer in 2009 it was used as a backpackers, a gym, and a bookshop.

He was a real scavenger, and on trips out to the farms would often stop to pick up interesting pieces of wood to use in their garden.  Visiting friends on local farms was a favourite activity, and he was very proud to be accepted by the local farming community. He loved Aberdeen, and was very content at the slow pace of life, and with the genuine caring nature of the people. For many years, he was a regular at the local bar, playing pool most evenings for an hour or so before going home for a quiet evening with Meijer. He was well-known throughout the community, and despite his rather rough exterior, was very soft hearted. He had no patience with those who tried to exploit the less fortunate, and was generous to a fault to those who had fallen on hard times.

Stewardson never married, and it was one of his regrets that he never had children. He very much enjoyed being an honorary grandfather to his friends’ children! He and Meijer, although different and in fact totally opposite in many ways, had a wonderful relationship, and were very content together in their lovely home, augmented by their “family” of dogs and cats.

This is the Deon Stewardson that Aberdeen knew, but in fact he was known internationally as an actor, primarily for his role as Anders Du Plessis in the ITV Drama series Wild at Heart. The series is about a veterinary surgeon and his family, who emigrate from England to South Africa, where they attempt to rehabilitate a game reserve for wild animals and establish a veterinary surgery and animal hospital. The show was immensely popular in the UK, with ratings peaking at approximately 10 million viewers and never averaging less than 7.5 million over any series. Stewardson’s fame overseas was such that he would often be recognised in the street or in restaurants whilst in England! For five years, Stewardson, accompanied by Meijer, would spend six months of the year filming in the Hartebeesport Dam area, and six months in Aberdeen. With his passion for wildlife, the series was a wonderful experience for him, and the amiable character of “Dup”  was a perfect fit. The last series was recorded in 2011, with a grand finale Christmas special recorded in 2012 before the show was axed. Stewardson worked alongside several well-known actors, including the iconic Hayley Mills.

Acting was certainly in his blood, as his father was the much-loved South African actor Joe Stewardson. His half- brother Matthew Stewardson, a well-known TV presenter, died tragically at the age of 35 in 2010.

Deon leaves a sister, Cheryl, half-sister Joanne, and half-brother Sean, all of whom live in Johannesburg. As was his wish, there will be no funeral, but his family and friends in Johannesburg will get together in his memory on the day of his cremation.

One of Aberdeen’s great characters, he will be sorely missed.

Aberdeen Full Service School diploma awards


Aberdeen Full Service School (still known to most people as Aberdeen Primary School) held its annual diploma ceremony last Friday. Teacher Karla Rheeder, as programme director, ensured the smooth-running of the event with good planning and organisation.

Parents and learners gathered in the quad, thankful that it was not yet the full heat of summer. In most previous years, the ceremony has been held in the school hall, but as there is insufficient space for all the learners and parents, the decision was made to hold the ceremony outside.

After the opening and welcome, a rather nervous grade 2 class performed an item, which was enjoyed by the parents. The grade R children also entertained the audience before all received their diplomas, with much activity from the parents and their cameras!

Teacher Elise Darries explained the criteria used for awarding prizes to the other grades, and the successful learners from grades 1 to 3 were presented with their certificates by their class teachers. As well as certificates for achievement, regular school attendance was also rewarded.

Following this, principal Johan Minnaar gave his report, mentioning some of the general challenges faced in education at the moment. He was pleased to report that the school is fortunate not to have a problem with drugs and alcohol. One teacher, Lydia Koopman, has been on long-term sick leave since April, but the school’s governing body has been able to employ a retired teacher to cover for her. The school has three vacancies for non-teaching staff ( a full-time secretary and two general workers), and they are awaiting for appointments to be made in these positions by the Department of Education in line with the recommendations of the SGB.

Minnaar explained to the parents about the name change of the school, and pointed out some of the infrastructure changes that have been made to accommodate learners with physical disabilities.

One of the biggest concerns for the staff is absenteeism, which is a chronic problem with some learners. This is especially true around the time of the SASSA payouts, and Minnaar admitted to the challenge of reaching the parents of those children. He stressed that the best present that any parent can give their child is a good education, as a weapon to overcome poverty.

The awards were then presented to the grade 4 to 7 learners, with awards being presented for each subject.

After this came the sports awards, one of the most outstanding being Mealndre Kombani’s achievements in netball. She was selected to represent Camdeboo schools, and then the Sarah Baartman District. Melonique Kekana, Lee-Ann Flippies and Robin Mackwena also received trophies for netball.

Ralton Heynse, Donadine Beyers, Geraldine Johnson, Vaughan Winnaar and Charlton Jaco received athletics awards, and Denico Carelse received the trophy for rugby

For the first time since its inception, the ABSA trophy for the most outstanding academic performance in grade 7 was shared. Both Mick Jacobs and Caithlin Klassen achieved outstanding results.

Wedding bells!

Phillessa Hellasene Finnis and Marlon Alan Jonas celebrated their marriage at the Congregational Church in Lotusville on Saturday 28th October, followed by a reception for family and friends at the Aberdeen Club.

Phillessa, originally from Aberdeen, is the matron of Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein. Marlon, from Port Elizabeth, is a military musician stationed in Durban, and the couple will be making their home in Durban.

Due to work commitments, the couple will only be able to go on honeymoon next May, and they are busy planning a trip of a lifetime to Norway.

Laptops for Luxolo

Thanks to the initiative of senior teacher Christo Frazenburg and ABET computer teacher Henry Mintoor, Luxolo Intermediate School is a beneficiary of Vodacom’s programme to provide computers to rural schools.

The school has been given 21 laptops for its computer centre –one for the teacher, and 20 for learners. The screens of the laptops can also be detached, so that they can be used as tablets.

The teachers received two days of training in September, on using the laptops together with an interactive whiteboard and data projector, and are delighted at their mastery of these new skills.

Principal Jan Mathiale, who worked closely with Frazenburg and Mintoor during the application process, is thrilled with the donation. He is busy working out the most beneficial way to use the donation, as most of the classes have 40 or more learners.

Luxolo trip to Cape Town

The Grade 9 tour to Cape Town is something that Luxolo pupils look forward to all year, and is a very special experience for them.

This year 35 learners and 9 teachers made the trip, which is subsidised by the school using money raised at fundraisers held throughout the year. Each child has a year to come up with their contribution of R1 000, payable in two instalments of R500.

They set off bright and early on the Monday morning of the recent school holidays, stopping in Beaufort West to enjoy the breakfast that they took with them. After another break at Laingsburg, they eventually arrived in Cape Town after 5pm. It was very cold, but this did nothing to dampen the spirit of adventure!

The learners and teachers stayed at River Lodge Backpackers in Pinelands, and very much enjoyed socialising with children from Venda, Limpopo and Gauteng, who were staying at the same venue. They were provided with a buffet breakfast by the Backpackers, and this was a real treat for them all.

Outings in Cape Town included visits to the South African Museum, the Two Oceans Aquarium, and Canal Walk, where they watched a movie –a first for many of the learners. On the Thursday, they went up Table Mountain in the cable car in the morning, followed by lunch on the beach at Camps Bay. Despite the cold, many braved the water and ventured into the sea- again, a first experience for many.

On the Friday morning, everyone was up very early, to squeeze in a visit to the Parliament buildings before the long journey home. The children all thoroughly enjoyed the many new experiences they encountered on the trip, and the parents were very grateful to the teachers who made it possible.

Kamdebo Primary tour


For the first time in many years, the grade 7 learners of Kamdebo Primary School in Lotusville went away on a tour during the recent school holiday.

Each child had a year to raise the necessary R1 000 contribution towards the cost, and with careful planning, most managed to save the necessary R100 per month. The school also helped towards the cost, and the teachers paid their share.

The children, in school uniform, gathered at school early on the Friday morning with their parents. They set off for Oudtshoorn in the busses, proudly wearing their new caps which had been sponsored by teacher Niel Pienaar.

After a brief stop in Willowmore, they drove on to their first port of call, the Cango Wildlife ranch in Oudtshoorn. There they were treated to a guided tour, experiencing the bat cave, seeing the big cats and crocodiles, and finishing up with a visit to the snake pit. All of these were new experiences for the vast majority of the children.

Accommodation for the trip was at a school hostel in the Bridgeton area of Oudtshoorn, which was very central.

On Saturday, the party went to the Cango Caves, where they were taken on the standard guided tour. They learnt about the rock formations, and the history of the Khoisan in that area. After a lunch from KFC, and a visit to the shops, the children went back to the hostel for some free time and a braai, and an early night in preparation for the early start the next day.

Sunday was the highlight for many of the children, with their first trip to the sea! They left early for Mossel Bay, where they went on a boat trip to Seal Island and visited the Bartolomeu Dias museum complex. The afternoon was spent at Santos beach, where the children loved playing in the sand. That evening was also an early night, as the children were all so tired after the exciting day!

On the last day, they visited a shopping mall in Oudtshoorn, also a novel experience for many, where they enjoyed pizza and ice creams before returning to Aberdeen.

The parents expressed their gratitude to the organisers and the teachers who went on the trip, very pleased that their children had been able to enjoy such a wonderful experience.