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Destitute couple given helping hand

A family and their friends from Gordon’s Bay have combined their efforts to assist an elderly couple and their little dog who had been sleeping in their car since May.

The couple, 69 and 62 years old, had been forced to sleep in their small, silver Daihatsu as they could no longer afford the accommodation costs of where they had been residing in Gordon’s Bay for two years. Due to financial constraints and because they depend on pension the couple opted to sleep in their car in front of Tallas restaurant in Beach Road every night.

Sisters Doreta van Blerk and Juanita van Rensburg, both Gordon’s Bay locals, provided meals for the couple on separate nights before noticing they were sleeping in their car.

“I immediately informed my sister about the situation who then offered to rent a caravan for them, while we looked for ways to assist them and took the dog to the vet so that he could be examined,” Van Blerk explained.

“The caravan option fell through because it really didn’t solve the situation. They were still struggling.”

Van Blerk said after informing her friends of the situation, they gladly jumped in to help, particulary Heidi Thiart, who offered to have her garage revamped into a home for the couple.

Renovations to the storage space commenced last Friday (4 September).

“I am humbled by the response we have been getting from the public,” Thiart related. However, her gratitude is punctuated by the negative comments they have received from the community. She said she is receiving messages from people citing the couple as alcoholics and con artists. “The couple is receiving health treatment and the only thing we know is the fact that the man’s eyes are really bad.”

The Gordon’s Bay local further related that she too, had been in a predicament three years ago, where a builder had run off with her life savings, which resulted in a financial dip, as with the couple. “He was meant to renovate my house but instead ran off with my money,” Thiart told DistrictMail, “so my garage was now half-done with no roof and windows, and that is why I want to help the couple.

“You know, one has to start somewhere in terms of doing good for the community.”

Another woman, who wanted to remain anonymous, has put the couple up at her guest house for the week. “They are extremely grateful for what everyone is doing for them,” she said.

The elderly couple, who have been married for 32 years and are originally from Johannesburg, moved to Gordon’s Bay about two years ago, where they rented a house until the owner sold it.

The man was a technical engineer in the South African army before injuring his eye. “He is completely blind in the one eye, and there is only 15% vision in the other,” the woman told DistrictMail.

She said she has received multiple messages from the public, some of them rather hostile and unpleasant, accusing the couple of dishonesty and waging a scam. According to Thiart, nothing could be further from the truth. “They have given us absolutely no reason not to trust them, and from what I have seen they really need all the help they can get.”

On the woman’s arrival she found that they were struggling to walk due to the time spent sit-sleeping in their car for such a long time. She took them to a hospital where they were examined and given medication to treat the water in their legs.

“The man is such a teddy bear, so soft and shy. He loves sweets and chocolates.”

He also has poor vision and can hardly see anything, not even the sweet treats offered to him, but he is able to smell them. “They are a lovely couple who do not deserve this at their age,” Thiart said.

To date, she and Van Blerk have had to pay for the renovations out of their own pockets. They and Van Rensburg are still in need of donations.

So please feel free to contact Van Blerk on 082 691 5904 or Thiart on 084 684 2108.

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