Talk of the Town
Tribute to local legend
Danny Wepener April 16 1950 October 18 2022
Danny Wepener was born in Brakpan on the
East Rand, the youngest after brothers Eddie and Lawrence, and matriculated as vice head boy at Brakpan High, having achieved in football, water polo and athletics. In those days, South African Airways was a proud and professionally operated organisation, and that’s where he qualified as an aircraft mechanic.
Danny married and started a family in his early 20s. They left city life for the Eastern Cape, for the sake of a better lifestyle. Danny commuted to OR Tambo (then Jan Smuts) airport where he worked as a senior flight engineer for SAA. When SAA dropped the three-man crew operating Boeing 747s, he retired. By 2004, he had completed just short of 15,000 hours operational flying time – most of it international, on the 747.
Even though he had travelled so much, he couldn’t sit still and was always exploring new places and experiences in his old blue Land Rover, known as “Sergeant Skorro”.
He was resourceful, always had a plan for everything, and was always willing to use his skills to help others. Sociable and with a great sense of humour, he was liked and respected in the community that he came to call home over the next 40 years.
Danny Wepener was an important role player in organised agriculture. He served as chair of the Eastern Border Farmers Association and represented farmers on the Roads Forum, Albany and Bathurst District Union, and the CPF.
He was a great ambassador for the Bathurst and Shaw Park communities.
In 2014 Danny was elected president of the Bathurst Show – the first “uitlander” in the show’s history to represent it. He spent much of his time at the showgrounds and used his own machinery and tractors to keep it clean and neat.
The Bathurst Show was and still is the biggest and most prestigious agricultural show in the Eastern Cape and Danny played a major role in that. He would leave no stone unturned to make the show a success. His commitment and longterm aim for the show was to make sure there was a legacy.
Danny’s parents were in the dairy business. This and frequent family trips to the Kruger National Park nurtured his love for the veld. His love for fishing grew from deep-sea fishing trips to Mozambique with his dad and he told his own children many stories of the game fish and massive sharks they wrestled at Inhaca Island.
Danny took every opportunity to be in the wild and when he went to visit his son Dale at their game reserve near Hluhluwe, he would spend a night or two in the room prepared for him before pitching his tent in the garden near the fence, under an acacia tree. He like to sleep hearing the night sounds and see the sunrise.
The night Dale received the call from the hospital to say his dad wasn’t well, the bush was very noisy – “lions, calling, hyenas making a racket, elephant in the dam nearby and hippos snorting occasionally”.
“But when the dawn was approaching things went quiet. I knew something was wrong so I went to stand near the fence in the dark where he used to pitch his tent,” Dale said.
“In the stillness before the dawn I noticed a movement just outside the fence and took a step or two closer to see what it was.
“There was a lioness walking slowly past about 15m from me. As I stepped towards here, she paused and turned and looked at me and then walked on into the darkness.
“I believe he came to say goodbye.”