Retirement from clinic after 40 years

Nursing Assistant Jennet Ralawe recently retired from the Masakhane Clinic in Aberdeen after 40 years of service to the local community.

Jennet started her nursing career at Midland Hospital in Graaff-Reinet in 1971, where she was one of the first nurses to be enrolled by the South African Nursing Council. After two years, she was transferred to Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, where she spent a further two years.

In 1979 she moved to Aberdeen, initially employed by the Cacadu District Municipality, and since 2011 by the Department of Health.

Jennet worked on the mobile unit with a professional nurse, visiting the farms in the district on a regular basis. She was a wonderful role model for her colleagues, always punctual, and will be remembered as a very caring part of the clinic’s team. She was always only a phone call away for her farm patients, and her cheerful nature lifted the spirits of many a patient.

 She was honoured at two special functions.

On Friday 31 May, about 50 friends and colleagues attended an official function at the Library Hall, organised by colleagues Florence Africa, Gladys May and Maureen Venter. Several representatives from the local District Office in Graaff-Reinet were present, and spoke fondly of Jennet’s sterling work over her 40 years of service. Local farmer Garth Featherstone arranged sponsorship from the farming community, and many local businesses also made donations towards the function.

Professional Nurse Eileen Lamprecht, who retired last year after seven years of service at the clinic, was also a guest of honour at the event.

On 5 June, members of the Aberdeen Farmers’ Association also held a farewell function for “Sister Jennet”, as she was affectionately referred to by all. “She is a well- known face to the farming community, bringing the mobile clinic and much- needed medicines to the farm workers” explained Petro Marx, on behalf of the Association.  

After a welcome from Hantie Marx, chairperson of the Association, Petro shared impressions of Jennet from her co-workers. They described her as a motherly figure, good hearted and totally unique, and someone who always put other people’s needs in front of her own. 

Speaking on behalf of the Aberdeen farming community, Petro indicated that Jennet’s smile and warm, humble personality will be greatly missed. 

People at the meeting shared their memories of Jennet. For some such as Linda van der Merwe, the clinic bus’s unexpected visits on farms serve as a very welcomed surprise, especially for those farmers’ wives on the more remote farms who did not get a chance to talk to someone as often as they would like.

Jennet also shared some of her memories for the time she served with the clinic bus, and there was a great deal of laughter at some of the stories she told.

Drones and farmers

Drones are seen by many as a “hobby gadget”, but some local farmers are finding the technology increasingly useful in their day to day operations.


The camera function seems to be the most helpful, and a farmer in the Aberdeen district who makes regular use of his drone commented that he mainly uses it for inspections of water troughs and small herds of animals. With the drone, he can take photos of a herd and count it later on. “Further to that, I assist my workers in gathering sheep and cattle” he explained. “I equip them with radios and direct them to the whereabouts of the animals, which is particularly useful in the bush areas. This enables the farmer to be able to gather the animals in a shorter time. He went on to say that to a limited extend, he also uses it to chase animals, but that is done with caution regarding nearby fences.

Like most technology, the functions available on drones are increasing all the time, and the price has dropped considerably since the early models first came onto the market. Another local farmer commented that he bought one of the early models, and in fact has found that its limited functionality and range have actually meant that he has ended up using it more as a toy!

Later models with infra-red allow expansion to night surveillance and crop management, and can be helpful for security.

Useful hints from the farmer who is successfully using a drone include careful research on the flight time of the batteries, and a range of at least 3 to 4 km from the base. With the extreme heat, and often high winds, that are experienced in the area, it is also important to look for a drone that can stand weather conditions.


Whilst some feel that the size of many Karoo farms and the distances involved are limiting factors, those who have done their research and found models to suit their needs have commented on the great advantages in saving time and effort. The opportunity for scenic photographs of the landscape is an added bonus!

Aberdeen Clean

Despite the bitterly cold start to the day, there was a reasonable turnout of residents to help at the monthly “Clean Aberdeen” session last Saturday.

A few people worked in the town centre, but the majority, including some school children who volunteered, concentrated on the Klipplaat road out of town. This road passes between the townships of Lotusville and Thembalesizwe, and is one of the main routes into the town. It is without doubt the worst from a litter point of view, not helped by the wind which blows a great many empty plastic bags from the townships.

Young and old worked together well, and a satisfactory collection of filled bags was testimony to their hard work!

Local ex-Councillor appointed to parliamentary posts

During her time as a councillor and leader of the DA caucus in the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality, Samantha Graham-Maré was well-known for positive contribution to the affairs of Graaff-Reinet and the surrounding towns. Last week it was announced that, as a DA Member of Parliament, she has been appointed as the new Constituency Leader for the Municipality, which will ensure that she is still actively involved in an area very close to her heart.

After the President has appointed his Cabinet for the new term, the DA appoints what they term a Shadow Cabinet.  While this is not a recognised structure, it allows the DA to assign MPs to do proper oversight and offer an alternative policy viewpoint on specific portfolios.  The appointments are made by Mmusi Maimane as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.  While Cabinet and Deputy Cabinet Ministers are paid substantially more than ordinary MPs, the Shadow Cabinet does not receive any additional monies.  They receive the same salary as normal MPs. 

To her amazement and delight, Graham-Maré has been appointed as the Deputy Shadow Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure. “As a new MP, I was expecting to be an additional member on a portfolio” said Graham-Maré.  “I am thrilled to be given Public Works as I am particularly interested in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the Community Works Programme (CWP).  I hope that in my new role, I will be in a position to make a difference in these programmes and ensure that they are operated more effectively and with less corruption.” 

She went on to explain something of the importance of her new department, which also encompasses all state-owned properties, including schools, hospitals, police stations and even empty land.  It is what is termed an “enabling department” as every single other department requires Public Works to do their work. 

The Public Works Committee will also be involved in the deliberations around the Expropriation Bill, which will be one of the most important pieces of legislation in the sixth Parliament. 

Induction for all 400 Members of Parliament started on Tuesday, and will continue for the rest of the week.  Next week is the State of the Nation Address (SONA) at which time, President Ramaphosa will open Parliament.  The following week, the new MPs will get down to work in their Committees, dealing with budgets.  “It is going to be a very busy few weeks, but I am really excited for what lies ahead” concluded Graham-Maré.

Local artist teaches classes overseas

Local fused glass artist Marguerite Beneke has just returned from a very successful trip to England, where she presented two three-day workshops to enthusiasts from the UK and other European countries.

Marguerite works from her studio in Aberdeen, where she has a small showroom, and is well known for her exquisite fused glass art. Her work is featured in upmarket galleries in various centres around South Arica as well as in local outlets. She is a self-taught artist, and her work includes abstracts, Karoo scenes, and landscapes.

Thanks largely to the internet and particularly social media, Marguerite’s work is becoming increasingly well-known worldwide. She is an active member of a global fused glass facebook group, and has received acclaim and interest from other artists all over the world who are keen to learn more about her unique style and techniques.

She has received invitations from teaching studios in several countries, although the logistics of obtaining the necessary specialist materials and the travelling involved have always been limiting factors.

The recent workshops in Ilminster, in the rural English county of Somerset, were the result of a great deal of preparatory work and research, and Marguerite (and her students) thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Most fused glass artists use stained glass, and build up layers of glass for depth. What makes Marguerite’s work different is that she uses ordinary window glass and the colour comes from applied glass enamel paint. She also adds surface decoration for texture such as frits (crushed glass) and copper wire to build up layers.

Marguerite was accompanied by her husband Pieter, who was able to spend some time exploring the local countryside whilst she was busy with the classes. In true English fashion, they were greeted by rain on arrival, but after the hot and arid Karoo, they were thrilled to see the lush green grass!

The comments posted by some of the participants on Marguerite’s own facebook page are testimony to the admiration of the students: “fabulous class, I have learnt such a lot from such a generous tutor” and “the best workshop ever” – these, from experienced artists who have many skills of their own and mostly attended many workshops over the years. There was great interest for a return workshop next year, but nothing has yet been finalised.

Marguerite taught in the corporate world in Pretoria before moving to the Karoo and devoting herself to her art full-time, and so was not stressed by having to address a group of strangers. However, her home language is Afrikaans, and the regional accents of some of her pupils did on occasions lead to some confusion! An amusing anecdote she related is that a lady from Spain asked a question – due to a different emphasis in the pronunciation, there was some confusion about “enamels” (with the emphasis on the first syllable) and animals!

After the courses, the Benekes were able to spend a few days as tourists, and enjoyed some iconic fish and chips, as well as tasting Yorkshire pudding for the first time.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity to travel and meet people in the same industry” enthused Marguerite.

The travelling is not over, as in August the Benekes are heading to Canada, where Marguerite will be presenting three workshops at a studio in Ottawa. The interest in North America is such that these were quickly sold out, and a further series arranged for May 2020 is also fully booked, with a waiting list! Several of the participants for the Ottawa workshops will be travelling from the United States.

Aberdeen is justifiably proud of this very talented resident, whose generous yet humble nature endear her to all she meets!

Aberdeen VLV Inspirasie Oggend

Op 22 Mei 2019 bederf Aberdeen VLV ongeveer 50 vroue van Aberdeen en omgewing met ‘n inspirasie oggend.

Lea van der Vyver verwelkom almal en open met gedagtes uit die Woord dat God ons wonderlik geskape het en ons Sy vrede en liefde gee om sodoende in enige omstandighede in oorwinning te kan leef.

Elize Hattingh, boervrou van Frankfort, het ‘n hart om vroue te bemoedig en te motiveer met haar persoonlike getuienis.  Die Here het op haar hart gelê om die “Fontein van Hoop” bediening te begin.  Sy deel haar verhaal van kinderdae tot nou – die rebellie en woede teenoor God en hoe Hy haar gered het en nou lei om ander in nood Sy hoop te gee.  Sy sluit haar praatjie af met die speel van die Bethel Music lied “No longer a slave to fear”.  Sy bederf ook elkeen met ‘n gedig, spesiaal vir haar bediening geskryf, sowel as tuisgemaakte koekies en ‘n capachino.

Archie Norval, argitek en plaaslike inwoner van Aberdeen, deel daarna die nuutste tendense in binnenshuise versiering met die dames.  Die inligting verkry hy van sy besoek aan die Maison en Objet Handelskou in Parys, Frankryk waar tendense vir die volgende seisoen uitgestal word.  Tekstuur in elke vertrek is belangrik – grof, glad, matte, material, hout, rottang, metaal en selfs plante – alles gee tekstuur en jy moet die balans vind van elke element wat jy gebruik om die voorkoms te kry wat jy verlang.  Die kleure vir die nuwe seisoen is gebrande oranje en amber en muurpapier en 3D versierings is groot.

Archie Norval vertel ook van die Georg restaurant wat hy en Nico Kemp nou bestuur.  Hulle spyskaart variëer na gelang van vars produkte beskikbaar en Sondae bied hulle ‘n buffet ete waar jy betaal volgens die gewig van die kos wat jy opgeskep het.  Elke vrou ontvang ook ‘n pakkie Delish mengsel vir verskillende produkte soos vetkoek, pannekoek en mieliebrood, wat hulle ook in die area bemark.

Drie gelukkige trekkings word gedoen en Lize de Jager, Elise Steynberg en Megan Meyer is die wenners.  Die oggend word afgesluit deur saam te kuier en gesels met koffie en eetgoed wat verskeie vroue gebring het.

The Honourable Samantha Graham-Maré, MP

Many local residents were glued to their television screens on Wednesday 22 April, eager to catch a glimpse of well-known ex local councillor Samantha Graham sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

Screenshots from the live television presentation were eagerly shared on social media, with the Aberdeen Democratic Alliance claiming bragging rights as the first political “home” for the newly-elected MP!

“What an incredible experience it was to be sworn in as a Member of the 6th Parliament” said Graham. “I am honoured and privileged to be able to serve my country in this capacity. And I will uphold the Oath I took today and put the people of South Africa, and in particular, the Eastern Cape, first.”

This was just the beginning of a very eventful few days for the local lady: on Wednesday, the Honourable Samantha Graham MP was sworn in, on Sunday 26 May she became Mrs Rodney Maré, and on Monday 27 May, she celebrated her 50th birthday as the Honourable Samantha Graham-Maré, MP!

Aberdeen clean-up morning

The second Aberdeen clean-up day took place earlier this month, and many townsfolk came out with their black bags and collected rubbish in several areas of town.

In the centre of town, the area around the town square was again cleaned, and it was encouraging to the organisers to find that the town seemed a little cleaner already after their first attempts.

As well as the adults, a group of youngsters from Kamdebo Primary School came along to lend a hand, organised by Cornelia Cronje. They worked very hard, and have promised to bring friends next time!

Garden Club Pancake Feast!

Aberdeen’s Garden and Social Club met on 9 May at David Millar’s house for a morning of pancakes, stories and seed planting.

Sonette Muller gave the members a fascinating view of life in Hong Kong after her recent visit, and her stories of the tiny spaces in which people live, along with the vibrant outside life of markets and food outlets kept everyone enthralled.

After the talk, all dug around happily in the compost and egg boxes and tins to plant a few seeds to take home and nurture.

David Millar is known as Aberdeen’s king of pancake making and did not disappoint, providing a seemingly never- ending feast for the guests’ delight!

Aalwynhof long service award

On Tuesday 30 April, the manager, staff and control body of Aalwynhof Home for the Aged in Aberdeen all gathered in the main lounge for a surprise ceremony to hand over a long service certificate to one of the staff, Sophia Minnaar.  She has been in the service of Aalwynhof for 30 years. As well as being a milestone for Sophia, it is also the first time that an employee has been at Aalwynhof for this length of time, and the first time that a certificate was issued to an employee for long service. 

Everybody was excited while they waited for Sophie to arrive.  She eventually arrived, flustered from having literally run from the Clinic where she was waiting in a long queue for her medicine, and of course totally unsuspecting of what was to come. 

Great was her surprise when she realised that it was all about HER!   She was thanked by the chairperson for her service to Aalwynhof, whereafter she told the audience a few short anecdotes about her working life there.  She told about Tannie Mathilda van der Merwe, who was known as the heart and soul of Aalwynhof.  She was always full of fun and used to play pranks on people.  Once she dressed herself as a baby, wearing a huge nappy with a large safety pin and a gigantic dummy hanging down her front.  Another time she organised and was involved in a mock wedding.  The cook was assigned the task of bringing in the ring.  Once again, people enjoyed this so much and could not stop talking about this, even till today.

After the ceremony Sophie posed for pictures together with various members of the staff.