Remembering the champion of Bonteheuwel’s ’green revolution’

Sydney Baatjies was passionate about the environment and establishing food gardens.

Sydney Baatjies, described as the champion of Bonteheuwel’s “green revolution”, was passionate about the environment and freely shared his knowledge, say those who knew him.

Mr Baatjies died of a heart attack on Tuesday August 3. He was 64.

In 2004, he helped to start the Bonteheuwel Green Club to promote gardening, raise environmental awareness and beautify the area.

The following year, the club was involved in a mixed-use community project that saw a skate park built at the Bonteheuwel Multi-Purpose Centre, opposite the community food garden.

Wilmot Arendse, a former facilitator of the No Messing project in Bonteheuwel, said Mr Baatjies had played a big role in the food garden.

“Back in 2004, when environmental consciousness and action was not yet fashionable or trending, Mr Baatjies, who was a retired postman, started, with other like-minded residents, the Bonteheuwel Green Club.

“For 15 years, Mr Baatjies devoted his life to working in the multi-purpose garden – not just as a gardener but also an environmental activist.

“He became the face and soul of the garden with his humble, caring and humorous personality. He became well known in the community because he shared his crop with the needy, while motivating them to start food gardens,” Mr Arendse said.

Mr Baatjies helped schools in the area establish food gardens, and he planted trees across Bonteheuwel, including at the Freedom Square heritage site.

In 2017, the Cape Argus invited him to the Clean Your Hood event in Parow, which celebrated the No Messing in Bonteheuwel project and Mr Baatjies’s contribution to beautifying and greening Cape Town.

His daughter, Simone Baatjies, said she would remember her father’s caring nature and good sense of humour.

“My dad volunteered until the very end. He suffered kidney failure and was forced to stop. A few months later, he passed on from a heart attack,” she said.

Mr Baatjies leaves his wife, Christina, four children and one grandchild.