Aberdeen’s Botter Ossies have triumphed once again – not
only did all four ladies finish the 25km trek that they had planned, but the
raised the staggering amount of R37 000 for various projects in the town!
Since last year’s walk of 21km, the ladies have kept up
their exercise regime and increased their fitness levels. They have all lost a
substantial amount of weight, almost 90kg between them. Hannelie van der
Westhuizen is leading the pack with a very impressive loss of 36.5kg, and
Umelda van Rensburg commented that she found this year’s walk much easier,
despite the extra distance, as she had 21kg less to carry with her!
The ladies and Niel Pienaar, who acted as their “second” for
the walk, set off from the Dutch Reformed Church at 5:45, and made a detour
into Aberdeen Self Catering, where they were treated to a freshly-brewed cup of
steaming coffee by owner Jurgens Strydom before setting off along the N9 just
They walked along the highway for 9km (with a break after
5km), then had breakfast before turning off on the gravel road towards
Grootvlakte farm. Every 2km they had a water point.
The ladies all agree that the support from Niel Pienaar was
invaluable, with one going as far to say that she did not think she would have
been able to finish without his encouragement. The ladies walked in two pairs,
and Niel probably covered almost as many kilometres as the official walkers as
he went left his bakkie and went from group to group offering inspiration and
fuelling their determination. Along the way, the walkers were also given a
regular energy boost with sweets donated by Archie Norval and Nico Kemp (who
also sponsored water), and bananas and more water from Martjie Jordaan of
The finish, after around six hours, was a very welcome sight
indeed for the weary walkers. Elna van Niekerk had provided a well-deserved
lunch for them all.
The beneficiaries are diverse, as each sponsor chose the
cause that they would like to support. Kamdebo Primary will receive the largest
amount, with Aalwynhof Home for the Aged and the project to clean up the town
also doing very well. Other beneficiaries will include animal welfare, two
crèches, a church, and a feeding scheme. Two overseas sponsors, family members
of Debbie and Umelda, boosted the coffers with substantial donations, but the
ladies were equally grateful to all the local residents and businesses who gave
what they could.
As somebody posted on social media after hearing
of the successful completion of the walk, maybe Comrades’ next year?
Last Thursday, members of Aberdeen’s Garden and Social Club
attended a very informative meeting, hosted by Judith and Tony Dardis.
Roelof and Lucille van der Merwe in turn explained their
ideas for specific areas where the club members could help in their project to
uplift Aberdeen, with particular emphasis on the garden areas of the town.
The van der Merwes already made a significant contribution
to the town when they bought and renovated the historic building now housing
Usave, which has proved a real asset to the town. Roelof also commissioned the
Aberdeen promotional video, and sponsored what is hoped to be the first of many
wall murals, next to the municipal offices.
The importance of the state of the public gardens to the
image of a town was stressed, and Roelof’s idea is that the members of the
Garden Club team up with local farmers to take responsibility for the garden
islands and different areas. It was also suggested that the schools should be
involved, with each school making a garden.
Lucille spoke with great passion and enthusiasm about
getting local businesses and guest houses to sponsor different public garden
areas in town, with obviously a small sponsor board to acknowledge their
support. She would also like to see many more trees on the entrance roads into
There was support for a garden outside the police station,
as an upliftment and encouragement. In fact, several years ago, plans had been
drawn up to do exactly that, but nothing ever came of the idea after the
municipality did not support it.
Other ideas that were discussed included a garden
competition, the regular problem of unskilled tree cutting, and the need for
plants to not only be drought-resistant, but also goat- and sheep-resistant,
with all the wandering livestock!
It was decided that one of the islands around the church
could be used as a trial area, and that a subcommittee would be formed to
The perennial litter problem was also discussed, and members
were encouraged to join those from the Revivify group who would be tackling a
town clean-up on the first Saturday after payday every month.
Ian Reed then spoke about recycling, with particular
reference to ecobricks. He demonstrated how the concept works, which is
basically filling empty plastic bottles with non-recyclable plastic, until they
are full. He is working with local artist Cornelia Cronje at the schools, and
they aim to encourage the children to make ecobricks which can be used to build
seating and shelters in the school grounds. He recounted a touching tale of the
enthusiasm of some of the Kamdebo Primary youngsters who had been very
interested in the project: Ian had picked up some stray pieces of plastic in
his street while walking home one day, when he was approached by two young
boys. Instead of the usual request for money or bread, the boys begged him to
give them his plastic rubbish, for their bottles!
Ian also spoke about recycled art (using everyday items such
as bottle caps), and gave examples of projects that he had been involved in
when he lived in Durban. There was a great interest in this, and he later
shared photos of some of his previous work. His enthusiasm was contagious, and
there was a determination to try some similar projects in Aberdeen, with
community involvement, to make Aberdeen the centre of recycled art in the
Host Judith Dardis also talked about the private
recycling facility in Graaff-Reinet, and
encouraged members to sort and recycle their waste.
As always, the meeting ended with a sumptious tea, provided
by some of the members.
In a feature in the Advertiser for Women’s Day in August
2015, Samantha Graham (then Jankowich) was asked about her inspiration and
goals. “I would really like to serve in the Provincial Legislature (as an MPL)
or National Assembly (as an MP) at some stage. I live my passion. I
wake up every morning and I am excited about the day. I am in a job that
allows me to keep learning every single day and on really good days, I get to
feel like I have managed to make a small difference in the life of another
Few residents of Graaff-Reinet and Aberdeen can be left in any doubt about Cllr Graham’s passion for her work, and she certainly has made a difference in the lives of many people. And this year, it seems although her dream of serving on a wider scale is going to come true.
Following a rigorous nomination process, she has been placed
at number six on the Eastern Cape Parliamentary List, with an overall position
of 77 on the consolidated list for the National Assembly. Currently, the
DA in the Eastern Cape has nine Members of Parliament, and the DA nationally has
89 Members of Parliament in the National Assembly and 20 in the National
Council of Provinces. This means that barring any unforeseen
circumstances, Samantha will be taking up her dream position as a Member of Parliament
after the May elections.
All Members of Parliament (MPs) and MPLs (Members of the
Provincial Legislature) in the DA are allocated constituencies and become
Constituency Leaders. This is only finalised after the election, but
given that Graham is the only person from this area, it would be a good fit for
her to be given responsibility for the Dr Beyers Naude Constituency, an area
she obviously knows and understands well.
MPs are expected to attend their Plenary and Committee
Meetings in Cape Town when Parliament is sitting, but the rest of their work
should be done in their assigned constituencies. They are allocated a
house in the Parliamentary Village in Acacia Park in Cape Town, which is where
they stay when they are attending Parliament. Cllr Graham was quick to assure
the community that MPs do not have to move to Cape Town, and that she will
remain a resident of Graaff-Reinet, actively promoting the wellbeing of those
in the area.
“Personally, I am very sad to be leaving local government”
said Cllr Graham. “I have loved being a Councillor and I enjoy working
intimately with my community. A real highlight was when I was acting Ward
Councillor of Ward 5. It was extremely special getting to know the people of
Kroonvale” she added.
Graham explained that Parliament will be much more removed from “grassroots” politics. “I am really excited at the prospect of being part of changing the path this country is moving along and being involved in the development of legislation and policies.” She admits that it is going to be a huge challenge, and that she is not looking forward to the travelling involved, as she will need to be in Cape Town every week when Parliament is sitting.
Samantha and her family moved to the Karoo at the end of
2008, from Cape Town. They spent just over two years in Aberdeen, where
Samantha soon became involved with the community, revitalising the DA in the
town, and gaining particular support in Lotusville. She stood as the DA
candidate in the local government elections in May 2011, narrowly losing to the
ANC candidate. She was subsequently appointed as a PR councillor for the
DA. During the election campaign, she was diagnosed with breast cancer in
October 2010, finishing treatment the following May, just ten days before the
elections. Through all of this she remained positive and focussed on her campaign.
In 2012 the family moved to Graaff-Reinet, for Samantha to
be nearer her main place of work, and more importantly, to be closer to her
In the 2016 elections, she was the DA’s Mayoral Candidate,
and really appreciated the opportunity to travel the length and breadth of the
Municipality, which she says gave her so much insight into the issues in each
area. She added that she has thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the Executive
Committee of the Municipality and Chairperson of the Corporate Services
Portfolio Committee, which have allowed her greater insight into the workings
of local government.
There have also been disappointments and frustrations along
the way, one of the biggest being the amalgamation of the municipalities. “My
submission opposing it was the basis of a full report commissioned by the
Municipal Demarcation Board. The report advised strongly against amalgamation,
but politics prevailed and it happened. Watching this Municipality fall into
its current dismal financial state is heartbreaking” she said. Another major
frustration is that the municipality is not delivering services to the local
Samantha has continued to give her utmost to the community,
and will be sorely missed. She hit the ground running even during her chemotherapy
treatment, and worked from East London whilst receiving radiation in Frere
earlier this year. Even from Cape Town, the community will probably still be
receiving social media updates on local problems from this dynamic lady!
Her closing wish for now is that she will be able to
represent the people of the Eastern Cape to the best of her ability.
John Watermeyer was born in Graaff-Reinet on 15 February
1929, the second child in a family of four boys and one girl.
He grew up on his parent’s farm Watervlei in the district,
and attended Union Prep and then High School. It was at school that he first
met Jean Margaret Murray, three years his junior, who would later become his
During this time, he played rugby for the Union High first
team for three years, and in reports in the Advertiser, he was described as
“clearing time and again with touch kicks,” and “being a safe and judicious fly
half”, with a wonderful drop kick. John also boxed for the school.
His brother-in-law Walter Murray recounted a story of how on
one occasion, Union High went to play Jansenville, in an open truck, which was the
usual way of travelling in those days.
It rained all day and all night.
The boys stayed at private houses in Jansenville on Saturday, Sunday and
Monday until the truck could cross the Melk River, and the joyful team of boys returned
to school only on the Tuesday morning!
After school, John went to Grootfontein Agricultural
College, where he passed with flying colours.
There he made wonderful friends, many of whom he is still in touch with,
and who still get together to this day.
After Grootfontein John took what would now be called a gap
year and branched out. He sold coffee
for Glenton and Mitchell, and being forward looking, bought plots of land on
the outskirts of Johannesburg. These he
used later as security for loans when he bought ground.
Next he joined the Wool Growers Association, working mainly
with sheep but also goats. Once again he
made lifelong friends during this chapter of his life.
In 1953 he met up with Jean Margaret again, and in 1955 they
were married and he took over the family farm, De Keur near Hofmeyer. This farm had two rivers running through it,
and the river with the most constant water was on the wrong side for irrigating
the lands. Never one to be beaten by a
challenge, John did a marvelous job of
building a siphon under the bigger river using petrol drums and concrete to get
the water to the fertile lands.
However, this farm was not large enough for the whole
Watermeyer family. John wanted to expand
and so he looked around for a larger unit.
After a lot of investigating he found a farm on the Kabusie River near Stutterheim. After many years there, stock theft problems
amongst other considerations caused John to sell the farm, and the family moved
The family’s move sounds a little like another Great Trek –
from the far side of Stutterheim to Graaff-Reinet was a journey of over 400km. John
had two tractors each with a big trailer as well as a big truck. They moved everything – packed sky high –
more than 400km at a tractor speed of only about 20km per hour!
The family stayed on Bloemhof for about a year and here John
helped in the building of the dam. John
took over the laying of pipe lines through the wall. This was no mean job as the ground had to be
compacted to 96%, then the troughs dug open, pipes laid and concreted. He did all this and the cement overflows
During the year on Bloemhof John was not idle in looking for
another farm in all the neighbouring districts.
Just then Doorndraai and Schoorsteenberg in the Aberdeen district came
onto the market. Everyone was thrilled
as Aberdeen is known as such a good farming district with a wonderful
While farming on Doorndraai, John was very involved with the
town and district, serving on many associations, such as Soil Conservation,
Farmers’ Association, and the Land Credit Board. When Alex got married John and
Jean moved to Fourwinds where they lived before moving to Belmont, and he
started farming actively again.
However, once again, just as he was tasked with building up
the farms he had to cope with a severe drought, similar to the present
one. And added to this adversity was the
serious illness and very sad death of their son John Alex. But John and Jean were used to hardships and
they made a success of everything through sheer determination and hard work.
They expanded again and bought Tandjiesview, and in 2005
moved to Aberdeen town. Their very capable daughters Colleen and Helen, with
husbands Dickie and Graham, have taken over the farms. Between them children,
they have blessed John and Jean with six grandchildren and two great
John has been a very active member of the community playing
cricket and golf, and played a major role in the running of the Aberdeen Club
for many years. He also served as a
chapel warden at St Mary’s and All Saints Anglican Church, where he still
He is still an active member of Probus in Graaff-Reinet, and
thoroughly enjoys the monthly gatherings with his many friends.
To mark the occasion of his 90th birthday,
Colleen and Helen organised a large party of family and friends at the Aberdeen
Club on 23February for a birthday brunch. Many travelled from far
to be part of the celebrations, a testimony to the important role John has
played in so many lives. Instead of presents, Jean had asked for donations
towards the work of the Graaff-Reinet Cancer Association, and they were
thrilled to receive close to R3 000, much of it given anonymously.
The combined service organised by the Aberdeen Dutch Reformed Church, Vrye Gereformeerde Kerk (VGK), and United Congregational Church of South Africa for the worldwide women’s day of prayer was very successful. Those who attended enjoyed the special fellowship, and felt that they had learned a lot.
The event opened with prayer and a welcome from organiser Estelle van Wyk.
She explained about the origins of this special day, which is celebrated in 190 countries around the world. This year Slovenia is the Writer country. They chose the theme: “Come- everything is ready” based on Luke 14:15-25, the parable Jesus told of the Feast that was organised and the guests that made excuses. The focus this year is to pray for Slovenia, but also all the people who are shunned by everybody: the disadvantaged, homeless, disabled, molested and molester, victor and victim, and the outcasts of the society.
Van Wyk also briefly gave a description of the country Slovenia, and of its culture, specifically about the women in the country.
Maria Jegels from the Congregational Church then prayed for the needs of Slovenia. Madelyn Scheepers read from the scriptures and the spiritual dancers group, led by Maria Jegels, did a prayer dance.
Esme Finnis gave a sermon from the scripture and Rachel Jantjies prayed for the women of the world. Cathleen Kalaka from the United Mission Church performed a beautiful song, followed by a short talk for the school children, from Yvonne Frazenburg of theVictim Support Centre. Linda Williams (VGK) then prayed for the women in South Africa. The congregation sang Amazing Grace and Estelle van Wyk prayed for Aberdeen and district.
Esme Finnis ended the service by saying grace, and prayed specific for women.
As well as women from the community, the grade 7 girls from Kamdebo Primary School attended the service, accompanied by Melanie Rheeder, a volunteer at the school. The organisers were very impressed by the girls’ behaviour and devotion, and a special moment for all was when the girls started spontaneously to sing as the congregation waited before the service started. At the end, a child asked if she could pray for the parents, which was very touching.
The girls then left, each receiving an ice lolly, and the women were treated to tea and coffee in church.
From next year this event, scheduled worldwide for the first Friday in March, will continue to take place in the Dutch Reformed Church, but all churches in the community will be invited to be part of the organisation. Representatives from all the churches are asked to contact Margie du Plooy at the church office on 049 846 0027 to leave their details for next year’s planning.
A closely- fought contest was played out on the Collie Koeberg rugby fields last weekend, when Aberdeen arrived in Graaff- Reinet for the return game against Central.
The Aberdeen team arrived full of confidence and well prepared to avoid a repeat of the thrashing of the previous week’s game in Aberdeen, which the visiting Central side won 65 -34.
Central were under pressure from the visitors for most of the game. Aberdeen first tasted blood by scoring the first points against the home team: the visitors scored three tries, catching the Central defence on the wrong foot. Central players were rattled at first by the better Aberdeen team, but kept their composure and fought on.
It was indeed a very competitive game, as neither team was prepared to give up. Aberdeen also punished Central with successful penalty kicks to stay ahead on the score board.
Despite the pressure, the home team kept up attacking the advantage line, and showed belief in their structure systems to dominate with the forwards.
In the last five minutes, the hosts started to get a grip on the game and the score edged to a nail-biting 21-23. Attack after attack from the Central forwards in the last minute of the game saw the Aberdeen forwards pressured into playing the ball on the ground, and the hosts made the most of the penalty awarded, and won the game 24-23. The captain of Central, Juventis Jooste, was nominated as the man of the match.
After the game, both teams conveyed good wishes to their opponents for the forthcoming rugby league season. Central players and management were grateful to the local supporters who showed belief in the team’s capability until the final blow of the whistle.
A young lad who grew up in Aberdeen many years ago is now one of the top operational managers in the South African Police Service.
Sam Kilian was born in PE, but moved to Aberdeen with his sister and parents Stanley and Susie when he was a small boy. He started his schooling career at Aberdeen Primary School, and then moved to Volkskool in Graaff-Reinet, where he matriculated in 1980.
Many old Aberdonians will remember Sam’s parents. Stanley, who passed away in 2003, worked in the Aberdeen Hotel, and also wrote for the Aberdeen Pos newspaper. Susie worked for 36 years at the Aberdeen Bottle Store for 36 years and was always ready with a cheerful smile for customers. In 2006 Susie moved to Benoni, to a purpose-built cottage at the home of Sam and his wife.
After school Sam joined the South African Railway Police in 1981, where he first trained at Esselen Park in Kempton Park for six months before being posted to what was then Jan Smuts International Airport. He rose to the rank of warrant officer with the Railways Police, working with the mobile units on trains. When the Railway Police amalgamated with the South African Police in October 1986, he continued to work on the East Rand, achieving the rank of Lieutenant in 1987.
Police service is in the Kilian family: Sam is one of five cousins who joined the service, following in the footsteps of his uncle Andries Horak, who retired as a Lieutenant General and who also comes from Aberdeen.
Sam has been in the service now for 38 years and has spent his career in the East Rand near Johannesburg. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier on 1 December 2015 and is currently the Provincial Commander for Gauteng Police Emergency Services. He has several units under his command, including the Flying Squad, K9, Mounted, Accident, 10111, Negotiators, Water Wing and Divers. He is also a trained hostage negotiator.
In 2018 he was awarded the best operational manager for level 13 and 14 managers in Gauteng, and following on from this, he was also nominated for the National Excellence awards, at an event which was held in Mpumalanga in January 2019.
Here he was awarded the first Runner up in the category Best Operational Manager level 13 to 14.
Last Thursday the Aberdeen Garden and Social Club enjoyed a wonderful outing to a local farm – truly back to the roots of the original Garden Club.
Oudedrift, about half way between Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet, is in a most beautiful setting, and the fact that such a lush garden could be seen in the middle of the Karoo during such a devastating drought is testimony to the love and care shown to the property.
Harold and Catherine Steven-Jennings bought the farm 34 years ago. It had been used as a cattle breeding farm, and thus was not set up in a form usable for them as sheep farmers, entailing a great deal of conversion work.
Members were fascinated by Harold’s account of the history of the farm, and how it is worked. He grazes his stock using the ‘wagon wheel’ format – a central hub of a watering point surrounded by wedge-shaped paddocks which all lead to the water, and the stock is moved from paddock to paddock around the ‘wheel’. This ensures that the ground and fodder has time to regenerate after it has been grazed, and the animals break up the surface and manure the ground to assist in germination of new shoots. When good rain falls, the stock moves more quickly, as the fodder grows fast, but in times of drought movement around the paddocks slows. Research shows that herds of wild animals – those who have not been interfered with by humans – actually graze in this manner intuitively. Because of his desire to work as holistically as possible, Harold prefers not to destroy predators on his farm, other than the occasional rogue. He brings his stock in to shelter at night for protection, and is currently investigating the possibility of bringing in a Maluti mountain dog to assist him to look after his sheep.
Catherine’s well-presented talk showed her passion for conserving and renewing the soil in as natural a manner as possible. Years ago she discovered books by Japanese farmer Masanoba Fukuoka called ‘The One Straw Revolution’ and ‘The Road Back to Nature’ and his ideas form a basis for her methods of growing both her vegetables and her flowers. The results are certainly magnificent. She works as organically as possible without using chemical fertilisers and only minimal pesticides if absolutely necessary. Her main pesticide is a mixture of khakibos and garlic, which deals with most pests. Her methods of making and using compost were explained and demonstrated to the guests. The group was fascinated to hear that at one time she had a problem with kudu jumping into the vegetable garden and helping themselves, and has solved the problem using strings of flashing Christmas lights on the surrounding rose-covered fence.
The farmhouse rests comfortably under a canopy of huge white ash and oak trees, which were already established when they moved to the farm, and which have grown massive and stately. Even in this time of drought the garden is full of colour and growth, and the garden is truly a place of peace and tranquillity. Many members of the group particularly remarked on this and said they didn’t want to leave! This was truly a ‘garden club’ meeting where we could relax under the trees, learn about a different way of life which places real importance on going back to nature, whilst enjoying a sumptuous tea provided by members.
The next meeting, on 14 March, will be held at the home of Tony ad Judith Dardis, at 7 Ziervogel Street in Aberdeen. The subject is the revitalisation of Aberdeen and recycling.
Graaff-Reinet’s Central Rugby Club had a remarkable opening game against Aberdeen last weekend to open the rugby season.
The match took place at the Aberdeen sports fields on Saturday, and Central beat the home team with a convincing 65-34 win.
The thorough preparation of Central’s new coaching team under the leadership of Aswell Adams bore fruit as Central were dominant in all areas of the game.
Central scored an impressive nine tries with ease, and fly half Mandy Sauls was succesful in all his kicking efforts.
Ben Koeberg, the scrum half for Central, scored three tries and was crowned the Player of the Game.
Hento Davids, President of Central Sport Club, is very proud of how the Central players performed, giving 100% effort, and believes that the Aberdeen players still in shock after the trouncing they received!
Central will play Aberdeen again in a return fixture this coming weekend at the Kolie Koeberg (?sp)stadium.
Anyone interested in joining the growing Central club is welcome to come along to join the practice sessions, which are held every day Monday to Thursday at 18.00 on the grounds of Kolie Koeberg.
Davids hopes that the team’s supporters will come out in their numbers on 2 March to watch the return game against Aberdeen, and would love to see a strong contingent of supporters with the visiting team.
Central are still looking for sponsors from businesses to get involved in what promises to be a busy season that will produce some outstanding rugby.
Last March, three friends who walked short distances together regularly for exercise took on the challenge of a 21km walk to raise money for charity. Close to R15 000 was raised for Aberdeen charities ranging from soup kitchens, churches, animal welfare and the elderly.
After a year, the Botter Ossies are hitting the road again to raise funds for Aberdeen. The ladies are asking their friends to sponsor their efforts as an encouragement, and each sponsor can choose where their money will go. A local organisation or project will benefit when someone specifically donates towards that cause.
The original Botter Ossies are Hannelie van der Westhuisen, who runs the Kamdebo Padstal, Umelda van Rensburg from Superstore and the Aberdeen detective office, and Debbie Barnardt, formerly of Aalwynhof and the NGK office and now teaching at Kamdeboo Primary.
This year, on 17 March, they will attempt to walk 25km to Grootvlakte farm, and the three stalwarts from last year have been joined by Lizemari Jordaan, a bookkeeper at Gerber Botha and Gowar.
Sponsorships can be per kilometre, or a once-off amount as a donation, and can be pledged with any one of the ladies. Forms are also available at the Padstal, Superstore, and Vroutjie se Koutjie.
Umelda and Hannelie in particular have been training hard this year, covering a distance of about 3km every morning, walking and jogging. Lizamari is walking on the farm for her training, and Debbie’s time in the classroom running around after 43 grade 3 children is certainly keeping her fit!