Celebrating and honouring courageous seniors

Left: Clockwise from left, are, Charlotte Murtz 96, Linda Seragie, 91, and James Matthews, 90. They were among the four nonagenarians being celebrated.

Four nonagenarians (people aged between 90 and 99 years) from Silvertown and Bridgetown were celebrated and honoured by Ann Ntebe, the former Athlone district manager of the Department of Social Development – herself being a senior as well now.

Ms Ntebe arranged a get-together with legendary author and poet, James Matthews, 90, Linda Seragie, 91, Charlotte Murtz, 96, and John Petersen, 91.

“In February 2009, as Athlone district manager of the Department of Social Development, I celebrated 90-year-old seniors at a restaurant in Kromboom Road, Crawford. Ms Brown of Silvertown was 96 years at that time. She has since passed on. Mr Mathews was also at that event.

“Ten years later, I am again celebrating the 90-year-old seniors, but this time with Mr Matthews now also in the 90-year-old ‘category’. Each of these special seniors have a wonderful life story to tell. All of them were moved to Silvertown and Bridgetown under the Apartheid Group Areas Act,” Ms Ntebe said.

Mr Petersen was born in Pinelands when it was called Raapenberg. He lived directly opposite the extension of the Mowbray golf course, but was never allowed to play on the course. He developed a love for the sport as he watched white men play the game. Many years later, he took up the sport and won many awards but as a coloured golfer.

“We all should be acknowledging Uncle John’s achievements as a South African golfer. Uncle John still drives his car of 30 years. Amazing,” Ms Ntebe said.

Ms Murtz was 3 years old when she went to live with her grandmother in Elim. She moved to Cape Town when she got married.

Said Ms Ntebe: “She remembers her husband as a very caring man. Ms Murtz is an amazing woman whom I really admire. She is full of life with a good memory and so she is able to relate to all the funny situations of the past. Her zest for life and her belief in her God get her to face another day.”

Ms Seragie, a breast cancer
survivor, was born in Claremont and moved to Bridgetown where she has lived for the past 60 years with her two sons, Solomon and Adian.

Mr Mathews was born in the Bo-Kaap and has been living in Silvertown for 58 years. He is known as the People’s Poet. Ms Ntebe described him as a “very humble man who lives by his motto: humility, integrity and compassion”.

“As a community and as a country we are proud of them and their contributions to making South Africa a better place to live in. They faced many challenges in their lives, but they lived in courage and hope. They are our heroes,” she said.