Heideveld matric pupil gets a fairytale ending

Utica van Wyk, 17, and her partner, Abdul Malik Retief, 17, pose for photographer, Zaid Samuels, on her matric ball night.

Thanks to the generosity of family and friends – and even a stranger – a Heideveld Grade 12 pupil experienced her dream matric ball just four days after she and her family lost everything in a fire that destroyed their wendy house.

Utica van Wyk, 17, a pupil at Garlandale High School, was given a fairytale send-off to her matric ball on Tuesday September 27. Four days before, on Friday September 23, she and her family – her mother Karen van Wyk, and brother Lezario, 8 – had to flee from their burning wendy house in Delft, and were left with only the clothes on their backs.

Ms Van Wyk, a single parent, worked hard to make sure her daughter experienced a memorable matric farewell. Since it was the last weekend before the big day, and she was planning to shop and pay for services, Ms Van Wyk withdrew all the money she saved up. Unfortunately, the money, along with their clothes, school books, school uniforms and furniture, were destroyed.

“It was just after 11pm, and we heard someone shout that it was burning. We woke up, and when we opened our door, the flames came rushing in. We all just ran outside, and didn’t think to take anything with us. I cried when I realised all my school books burnt in the process. I am blessed, in that my friends helped me out a lot, by making photocopies of our work, for me. My school also helped, and my mother bought me new books as well,” Utica said.

Luckily, Utica’s dress was still with the dressmaker, and was not destroyed. The family moved from Delft to Heideveld that same weekend, and now share Ms Van Wyk’s mother’s wendy house.

Ms Van Wyk said she was determined to give her daughter the matric ball she deserved.

“I knew I would make it, because I have very supportive colleagues, especially my manager at Alplas. My family and fiancé, Gavin Wrenn, also helped me in a big way. We were able to provide snacks and drinks for our guests, who came to greet Utica at home before she went to the matric ball. I would just like to thank everybody who helped us out,” Ms Van Wyk said.

And while Utica had her hair done, the owner of the hair salon told another client what had happened to Utica and her family. It touched the woman so much, that she gave Utica R300 towards her hairdressing bill. Utica did not get the woman’s name, but also expressed her sincere gratitude for this stranger’s kindness.