Neil plans to live dog’s life for charity

BEHIND BARS: Neil Barker will be caged for 67 hours in Port Elizabeth in his efforts to raise money as part of Mandela month. Picture: MIKE HOLMES
BEHIND BARS: Neil Barker will be caged for 67 hours in Port Elizabeth in his efforts to raise money as part of Mandela month. Picture: MIKE HOLMES

Freedom for ‘cage-man’ on Mandela Day

A NELSON Mandela Bay entrepreneur will swap his designer clothes and the comfort of his home for orange overalls and a 3m x 3m cage for 67 hours starting at 8pm today.

Neil Barker, 30, will enter a mock prison stationed outside News Cafe at The Boardwalk as part of a challenge to raise awareness of the 67 years – including the 27 behind bars – former president Nelson Mandela dedicated to fighting for human rights.

Funds raised will be donated to various animal shelters around the city.

“This idea came to me four years ago when I bought a puppy,” Barker said. “I was shocked by the environment and the fact that the puppies never actually leave the cage.

“I then decided to raise awareness about dogs being bred in a cage.

“Early this year I spoke to the City of Champions and they loved my idea and I am glad that I am finally doing it.” The City of Champions project has been targeting records this year, including trying to smash the world’s longest human chain on Freedom Day at the Wolfson Stadium in KwaNobuhle, and will try to set or break five records this week.

As part of his contribution, Barker will be staying in a cage with just a mattress inside, and a covering on top. His stay will be streamed live on YouTube.

“During the day I will wear an orange overall and I will put on something warm at night because I don’t want to freeze to death.

“I have bathroom breaks of five minutes per hour but I can build up those minutes for 20 minutes to get a quick shower at the Boardwalk Hotel.

“I have also invited radio personalities and corporate people to join me in the cage for an hour.

“They will take a selfie with me and ask people to bail them out. The bail money is R500,” Barker said.

“I am working with 20 corporate businesses who have also donated some money towards this initiative.

“If a person doesn’t get bailed out, then we will use the money donated to us to bail that person out.”

Barker, who has been suffering from flu in the past week, said he was well aware of the cold weather but this was for a good cause and there was no turning back.

Barker will get what he calls “prison food” from the Boardwalk.

“I am not worried because this is just 67 hours. Nelson Mandela spent 27 years behind bars.

“I am committed to spend the whole 67 hours in this cage. I am so excited about this and the support I get from friends, family and business people is amazing,” he said.

His mother, Marencia, 60, said she was very proud of her son but also a little bit concerned.

But, she said, “I know my son – once he puts his mind to something there is no turning back”.

Barker will be a free man at 2pm on Saturday.

-Yoliswa Sobuwa

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