Month: February 2013
In spite of going past the cemetery every time I was in the area I never saw the gardener or received the phone call that would allow me access to the cemetery. It was very frustrating. I was due to leave South Africa on the 1st of March 2013, and if I did not get it photographed before then it would be too late.
On 14 February 2013 I went grave hunting on the East Rand with my godson, and on our way back we were in the area so I stopped at the cemetery to show him where it was. Lo and behold the gate was open! there was no sign of the gardener though, but that did not stop us and finally we could record the graves inside it’s walls.
There are supposedly 77 graves in the cemetery, and sadly a lot of the older stones have been toppled and laid flat on the graves so legibility is poor. I photographed all the graves, because who knows what the future may bring for this small enclave.
There is however no way of knowing how many unmarked graves there are, and I believe that there is a register somewhere. Geldenhuys is not the only surname here though, there are a number of other family members and possibly the graves of some of the ABW veterans that helped build Emmarentia Dam or who lived on the plots on the farm. History does not tell us the whole story. The oldest legible grave that I saw was dated 1891, but it is possible there was older. It is a pity that the older headstones have toppled, and that they are not restored.
And what about Louw Geldenhuys?
My supposition was correct, this is the grave of Lourens (Louw) Geldenhuys (1864-1929) and his wife Emmarentia (1866-1938). They left quite a legacy behind in the area, and I don’t think too many people are aware of it.
I felt so much happier now that I had this cemetery under my belt, in fact this was amongst the last cemeteries that I photographed in South Africa,
The images of the graves are available on the eggsa website and it is possible to see the deterioration of some of the graves between when I first photographed over the wall so long ago. The cemetery may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates -26.164606°, 28.010052°, but there is no guarantee that it is open, or you can find the gardener (we did not see him while we were there, so it was pure luck that we did manage to take our pics undisturbed). Many of the names in this cemetery have streets named after them, and of course the area is named after Emmarentia Geldenhuys. Way back when this was all a farm it must have been a very interesting place with Melville Koppies close by and the fledgling mining camp of Ferreirasdorp not that far away.
My 1908 map shows the size of the farm “Braamfontein” and the farms around it, today the borders of those farms are no longer identifiable and I cannot help but think that the Geldenhuys family left quite a legacy behind.
It was time to go home, my quest was finally over.
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Many years ago, when I was a wee lad, it was announced over the radio; “The Galoobs are coming!“
And they did. Total ran this promotion at their garages where you could get a Galoob when you filled up your car (and I think you could buy them over the counter too). And, for those that don’t know what a Galoob is, or looked like…
Now bear in mind, these little guys are small, that one is sitting on a 35mm film canister, which makes him about 1cm in height. They came in various poses and wearing different hats. There was also a larger version and standing ones too. None wore any pants!
I did not know him in person, but the name was familiar from the early 80’s and finding the grave just triggered a sadness that is difficult to explain. The fact remains that he did not die an easy death, and while the official verdict was suicide, it is easy to view his death in the same way as that of Steve Biko. However, nobody was ever prosecuted for the torture that he suffered, and many of those who committed the atrocities on behalf of the government of the day are still living amongst us.
Personally I cannot see how many of these “men” that abused their power can really live with themselves. I cannot see how they went home after a long days torture and abuse and sat down to dinner with their families, or how they could sit in church and listen to the Dominee all the time thinking that on the next day they would back in there with their rubber hoses, shock machines and other instruments of violence. They share the same part of history as members of the Inquisition, witch finders, Nazi’s, concentration camp guards, serial killers and terrorists.
Another grave that I found was that of David Webster,
Assassinated 1 May 1989, that says about it all. Do those responsible lay awake at night and consider that they did a good job on that day? do they go home and tell their wives? I do not understand it and frankly I never will, but then I have never been in that position either.