Man cashing in on fake demise of popular PE wood merchant
News of his own death has come as somewhat of a surprise for a wellknown Port Elizabeth braai wood merchant.
Healthy – and carrying on happily with life – the merchant, affectionately known as Hoppie, said he started getting calls a few weeks back about his death.
Johan “Hoppie” Barnard, 58, said he had been told a young man had been approaching customers about his need of money during the sad time of Hoppie’s demise.
Customers said the man would tell them Hoppie had been stabbed to death in Greenbushes.
A bemused Barnard yesterday said he was alive and kicking and running his business from his Mangold Park home as usual.
Hoppie, who runs the 15-year-old Hoppie’s Braaiwood business with his son, Stefan, 35, said his biggest concern was that unsuspecting people were being taken for a ride.
“It is very scary that someone would do this kind of thing, especially because he is targeting innocent people.
“We need to inform not only our clients but the public as well that this guy is going around telling people I am dead and he is collecting donations for whatever reason,” he said.
Hoppie said staff members from three different businesses had contacted him after they had been approached by a man who went by the name of Andre Nolan.
When The Herald tracked Nolan down, he claimed it was all a case of mistaken identity as he, too, was the son of a wood merchant called Hoppie.
Nolan questioned why the story was newsworthy.
An aggressive Nolan said: “It must be a misunderstanding and I find this really embarrassing for people to be saying the stuff they have been saying.
“I have a wife and child. People were saying a lot of nonsense about me and my family on Facebook and it is already so hard to walk around and do what I do.
“It takes a man to do what I am doing and then they confuse stuff purposefully and cause trouble for me,” he said.
Nolan said he was once followed by a Neighbourhood Watch group even though he felt he was doing nothing wrong.
He admitted he had asked for money as his father had died earlier this year.
However, he said it was not his fault there were two Hoppies in the wood business.
Hoppie said: “He [Nolan] approached my barber after I had had my hair cut and the barber confronted him about it.
“This guy then got aggressive when he was found out.”
Stefan said they had seen on Facebook that the man was wandering around town with his wife and infant daughter claiming to be the son of Hoppie from Hoppie’s Braaiwood. “He is mainly targeting homeowners who are not aware my father is still alive.
“Our concern is that these homeowners could then believe his story and just go look for another supplier which could become a major problem as far as business is concerned,” he said.
Hoppie’s Braaiwood supplies major petrol stations and several retail stores.
Hoppie said: “I found that quite amusing because people were checking to see if I was alive and to warn me about this man.”
Yuppie Cuts co-owner Louise Kapp, who cut Hoppie’s hair a few days before the man showed up at the Newton Park establishment asking for money, said on a voice recording to Hoppie: “There’s a guy walking around here telling people that you have been killed.
“I told him that you were here the other day but he said no this happened three, four months ago and he still pointed to the scar on his face and said he was with you [when it happened] and that they have not yet caught the people who did this.
“I gave him money because he really makes his story sound very real, he looks like he is about to cry,” she said.
No cases have been opened against Nolan.
Hoppie said he just wanted the public to be aware of what he believed was a con.