The CEL-E-BRATE good News, come on! editorial in the 4 September issue of The Village NEWS, has prompted me to share a predicament which Noel and I experienced in June this year.
At dusk on a cold winter’s evening, we closed our shop later than usual, and set off on the R43, heading for home in Bot River. However, en route our car gave a hiccup and conked out alongside a bridge near the brickfields some distance from Barton Wine Estate. We had run out of fuel due to a faulty petrol gauge.
Not only that, but being the technophobe I am, I’d forgotten my cellphone back at the shop. It was now dark and we had only one option in this crisis situation and that was to walk the four or more kilometres to the Salandra Service Station. Once out on the road in the biting cold, the dire circumstances of our plight was driven home to us. With the traffic whizzing along the R43 in both directions, we felt both unprotected and vulnerable.
Not five minutes into our walk, we were caught in the headlights of a small bakkie and trailer which pulled up alongside us. Two men wearing overalls were in the front and two on the trailer. The driver offered us a lift. With the recent racial tensions mounting in Hermanus, and no Plan B option at hand – the garage would soon be closing – we reluctantly accepted and got into the small cab with some trepidation. I was almost sitting on the gearbox beside a stranger with our fate in his hands.
The driver instructed two of the men to stay behind with our car and then drove us to the Salandra Service Station. Here he waited for Noel to organise two litres of petrol, which took the attendant some time in having to craft a receptacle from a used plastic Coke bottle. Noel suggested I stay behind at the café adjacent to the garage to wait for him.
When the bakkie drove off with Noel and the driver, my head went fuzzy with fear. It is in circumstances such as these that we tend to imagine the worst. Both the café and the garage were due to close in ten minutes, and I had a very shaky picture of myself sitting alone in the dark waiting for my husband to return. Just a week earlier, a couple who had run out of petrol on a highway in Gauteng had been brutally murdered.
It was a huge relief for me to eventually see our car and Noel drive onto the garage forecourt, and to hear that while one of the men had filled his petrol tank, Phillip Matawasa, the driver and Good Samaritan, had told Noel that he had been contracted to clear vegetation along the R43. He and his men had done a day’s work and were heading back to the Strand where they live.
The picture suddenly became clear to me. Phillip Matawasa and his team had showed us the true meaning of Ubuntu. Without considering the time they would lose on their journey, they had gone out of their way to stop and help two strangers in need.
Between two different cultures, this act of compassion, especially in times such as these, is a memory I hold dear and shall never forget.
Congratulations too, on the good news of The Village NEWS!