The country’s stomachs’ churned as we watched the raging inferno lay waste to large pockets of the Free State and Northern Cape, leaving a wake of devastation in its path. This resulted in more than 100 000 hectares of pastures being destroyed—coupled with large numbers of livestock, game and even houses up in smoke. Boshof, Dealesville, Hertzogville and Hoopstad have been left with nothing but the charred remains of their lives.
In reports from Free State Agriculture, the fire allegedly occurred due to a protest over service delivery. This saw protesters setting tyres alight— and sadly, their actions then ended in a catastrophic fire, affecting not only the lives of many farmers but the lives of farmworkers, their families and of course the food supplies for the country.
With the farmers being left with essentially nothing, Agri SA appealed to the private sector to obtain donations. Hearing the call for help, the love-filled Northern KwaZulu-Natal community came together and extended a helping hand to the farmers and those affected by the fire.
André and Bebsie Cronje started an outreach initiative, seeing the spirit of uBuntu being resurrected in this time of crisis.
Explaining how the initiative started, Bebsie states, “I saw Agri SA’s call to action to help the farmers and shared it to some of the groups I belong to.”
Immediately, people started coming forward and claiming they would help.
With the donations including food parcels and even beds pouring in, André and Bebsie decided to try and involve more Newcastillians in the drive and this led them to the Newcastle branch of the Tzu Chi Foundation. Bebsie elaborates, “During the lockdown, the foundation donated several food parcels to the needy. I contacted James Wang and asked if they would be able to assist with this project.”
According to her, the Tzu Chi Foundation responded to the call of action and is now donating 100 packages. These packages include enough blankets, maize, sugar, beans, cooking oil and rice to support one family. This means, thanks to their generosity, 100 families will not go hungry.
Bebsie and André will now ensure all donations are transported through to Boshof on Saturday, 31 October 2020.
Additionally, the Newcastle branch of AfriForum, in conjunction with SAAI, is also actively involved in assisting the farmers in the Free State and according to Gideon Linde of AfriForum, the total combined weight of the donation comes in at a staggering 9 tonnes.
Going on to explain, “We collected food for the families, as well as food for the animals. We also managed to collect medicine for both the families and their livestock.”
Furthermore, AfriForum also collected blankets and clothing for the affected families—with donations coming not only from Newcastle but also from Utrecht, Dundee, Ladysmith and surrounding towns.
Showing their support, the Rapportryrers have also assisted immensely in the drive, supplying the necessary funds for the fuel to transport the goods through to Boshoff.
Pixelfish Marketing and the Newcastillian – Online News salutes AfriForum, the Rapportryers, Bebsie and André Cronje, alongside the Tzu Chi Foundation and every community member who made this possible—you are the beauty and brilliance this country so dearly needs, you are a true Newcastillian!
Authors: Quinton Boucher & Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer