go! Platteland

The Tonteldoos of times past


From 1953 to 1955, I visited Tonteldoos in my capacity as a social worker for the NG church (the Middelburg ring). My general impression of this area? Isolation, poverty and incredibly bad roads!

I had to visit a family at the address “Snuif in die oë, PK Tonteldoos”, but never got there, because the road was so impassible that I turned around halfway, with a great backwards-and-forwards struggle. I also remember having to register a baby’s birth at the police station – the child was at least two weeks old already.

The people lived in isolation and didn’t have transport – except perhaps a bicycle or a donkey – and seldom visited the town, mostly on pension-payout days and to buy groceries. Most had a shelter, a patch of mielies, maybe a cow, a few chickens and a pig. They were really poor.

By the Fifties, the school had closed. The teachers, Oom Adam Willemse and Tant Issie, had retired and were living with their daughter in Hendrina. I think the cheese shop used to be their house.

My impression of the area from those days tends towards the depressing, so I am really glad that things are happening again in Tonteldoos – a name like that is enough to pique one’s curiosity.

Agnes Matthee (de Clercq),


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