Car guard’s will means hampers of happiness for Buffelsfontein Village

FESTIVE TREAT: Tarien Bester, 19, hands over a Christmas hamper courtesy of the late Petro Pretorius to one of the residents at the Buffelsfontein Village old age home
FESTIVE TREAT: Tarien Bester, 19, hands over a Christmas hamper courtesy of the late Petro Pretorius to one of the residents at the Buffelsfontein Village old age home
Image: Supplied

Christmas came early for the residents of the Buffelsfontein Village old age home this week, thanks to an unusual deceased estate left by a Charlo car guard.

The festive surprise arrived in the form of custom packed hampers of food, household goods and one or two personal items which were distributed to the residents at an emotional event at the home on Thursday.

But it all started with “Tannie” Petro Pretorius, 72, who declared in her will that all her money must go to the Buffelsfontein home where she had many friends who she knew were living on the breadline.

Attorney Paul Bester said on Friday that Pretorius had initially worked in the clerk’s office at the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

“I started working at the court 30 years ago when I was 21 and she was working in the clerk’s office, so I got to know her there. She was a lovely person,” Bester said.

“Then she retired from there and became a car guard in the Fig Tree parking lot, where she used to work the area outside Spur and Ocean Basket.”

At a certain point Pretorius had come to him and asked if he could help her with the drafting of her will as she was getting older and was not well, Bester said.

“She had no family at all so her instruction to me was simple. Sell whatever she had left, put the money in a trust and use it to take care of the people at Buffelsfontein old age home where she knew many of the residents.”

Pretorius died in May 2018 and this month with the estate processed and Christmas approaching Bester had the enjoyable task of implementing her wish.

But in doing so he was confronted by a sad story, he said.

“Most of the Buffelsfontein home residents receive the state old age grant which is R1,700-odd and out of that they must pay R1,050 rent. They live off about R20 a day.

“Which means many of them go to bed hungry at night.”

The project management team had packed each hamper with staples like rice and oats and various tins of food but also luxuries that residents would never normally be able to get for themselves like tomato sauce, custard and jelly, he said.

“We fitted 35 products into each hamper and there were 410 residents and each one got a hamper.”

Bester closed his firm for the day on Thursday and he and his staff, as well as his daughter and her friend and members of the Parks Rugby Club, met at the home to hand over the hampers, he said.

“It was an emotional event. Some of the residents burst out crying.”

The aim was to use the trust funds to continue Christmas hamper donations to the home for the next four or five years at the same time as trying to grow them by adding extra funds, he said.

Bester’s daughter Tarien, 19, said she and her friend Lauren Smith, 17, had been assigned the mammoth task of making the purchases and then packing the hampers.

“Besides the food, we also put in household things like dishwasher and personal items like body wash,” she said.

“It was a lot of fun and amazing to see the happiness on the residents' faces.

“For those who weren’t there we handed their hampers over to the management office and they’ll get them when they return.”