Submitted by: Cindy Poluta and Margot Van Jaarsveld 

We posted the story of the friendship between Cindy (Poluta) and Alfred on the #ImStaying Facebook page in February.  It is such a beautiful story of Ubuntu and yet one of devastating sadness, that we want to share it with a wider audience here on the #ImStaying website.  We are also happy to tell you that another beautiful friendship has sprouted out of the first one.  But first, we need to listen to Cindy and Alfred’s story as told by her.

I don’t even know where to start.

“One winter morning on my way to work I saw a guy walking up 7th Avenue in Parkhurst.  It is a steep hill, and it was freezing.  I felt sorry for him so I slowed down.  He was wearing a red cap with Shell written on it, so  I assumed he worked at the garage.  I opened the window and offered him a lift.  It turns out he did not work at the Shell, but at the Crowne Plaza.  Every morning I would drop him on Jan Smuts, then turn left to go to work, and he would walk up into Rosebank towards the hotel.

We chatted about soccer.  And always about the weather.  Did we think winter was coming?  When was winter coming?  Was this winter as cold as the last one?  I had a vague idea where he lived as I once bumped into him at the local Spar, and on days when it was pouring I’d adjust my route to try and pick him up earlier.

I learned he had a grandson, that his wife was a domestic worker in my area, and his daughter lived in Soweto.  On weekends he would go to Soweto so I never saw him on a Monday.

This has been a routine for about 3 years now.  Our first December, on my last day of work before he jumped out the car, he gave me a Christmas gift.  Four of the most awesome glasses and a letter of gratitude that touched my heart so, so deeply. . . At Easter time he gave me chocolate and a box of Easter eggs for my kids – and so began the Easter and Christmas gift exchange.  Something for each person in my family.  But the Christmas notes were my best, sincere thanks for giving him a lift each day.  He claimed had I not given him a lift, the cold winters would have got him. 

I collapsed . . . Shattered . . . Inconsolable . . . The kindest person . . .

I haven’t seen him the last two weeks.  His phone is off and he would always message if he took time off work; he did not want me stopping for strangers thinking it was him.

Today I went to his work. “Hi, I’m looking for my friend Alfred, he works here?  I haven’t seen him in a while and I’m wondering where he is.”

Her expression said it all . . . My friend, Alfred, was mugged and stabbed in Soweto.

I collapsed . . . Shattered . . . Inconsolable . . . The kindest person . . . My morning companion is no longer . . . 

I just want to meet her.  Tell her I am so sorry.  Tell her he mattered.  His life mattered. 

I only saw him for five minutes a day.  But he occupied a space in my heart.  And I do not even know where to start to find his wife, Aggy.  All I know is she worked in a house in Linden, either 6th or 8th Street. Somewhere between 3rd and 4th Avenue . . .

I just want to meet her.  Tell her I am so sorry.  Tell her he mattered.  His life mattered.  My morning drive will never be the same.  Ever.”

Ubuntu continues to flow . . .

Cindy followed up that story with the news that she did indeed find Alfred’s widow, Aggy.  They have made a connection through social media.  The family have been dealing with a huge financial burden, since Alfred had been their main breadwinner.  Cindy has helped with a fundraising effort to help them stay on their feet during this time of huge grief.

Ubuntu continues to flow . . .


Edited By:  Val Bruce

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