This weblog is a portal for news and items of general interest from the town of Aberdeen in the Camdeboo area of the Cacadu district of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The weblog's overiding purpose is to publicise the town and promote tourism in the region.

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Back to school

Aberdeen schools are hard at work already, with all reporting a successful first week. Principals are happy to report that the necessary stationery arrived in plenty of time, although Aberdeen Secondary has received less than one third of the required text books.

Of more concern is the vacant posts which has inevitably led to large class sizes and in the case of the secondary school, classes without teachers. The district office in Graaff-Reinet has not be able to offer any reassurance to the schools as to when the vacant posts will be filled, and apparently have to wait for Head Office in Bisho.

Aberdeen Primary School has an enrolment of just under 400 at this stage, and they are still waiting for some children to return. Classes are big, with over fifty children in one class in both grade three and grade seven. Many of the children come in from the farms in the district, and these are accommodated in the school hostel. They have ten teachers on their staff, but are still waiting for the replacement for two temporary teachers. One teacher has been appointed by the school's governing body, and the principal is very grateful to this dedicated lady who is a key member of staff. Grade One classes were off to a flying start on the first day, with well-planned activities underway from the beginning. Most of the children had been in Grade R the previous year so settled in quickly, although the Grade R teacher did have a few tears to contend with!

Kamdebo Primary is the largest school in the area, with over 600 pupils. Of their 22 teachers, two are paid by the SGB, and there is one vacant post following the retirement of a teacher last year. They are fortunate to be able to have smaller classes, with the two grade five classes being the biggest with 36 pupils each. Grade One classes were busy colouring in worksheets almost as soon as they got to the classrooms, and the teachers were able to improvise an alternate activity for those unexpected extra children who arrived on the first day. Each child was able to use a brand-new set of pencil crayons, which was a real treat for many.

At Luxolo Intermediate School, over 400 pupils started the day with assembly in the open, and then were taken to their new classrooms. Once again the Grade One teachers were on the ball, and had a programme of activities planned for the children. Parents had collected their children's exercise books earlier in the week, so they had already had a chance to cover them. The children at this school looked particularly smart, with almost all in full uniform in the distinctive black and yellow. This school is particularly hard hit regarding staffing, as they currently only have nine teachers to fill the twelve posts. One teacher retired at the end of last year, a new HOD post has been granted, and the temporary teacher from last year has not yet been reappointed. Except for Grade One, there is only one class in each year, and the Grade Four class has sixty children.

Aberdeen Secondary is also badly understaffed at this stage, with only fifteen teachers instead of the required eighteen. Fortunately their two temporary teachers have been appointed until March, but they have not received replacements for the two teachers who have left or the one young teacher who was tragically killed in a motor accident in December. At the moment, teachers are having to spend their administrative periods supervising the classes without teachers, which is far from ideal. Two teachers are urgently needed for English (first additional language), and also one for business studies for grades ten to twelve. There are 565 children enrolled at the school, but as of last Friday, only 507 were at this stage in class.


The ladies of Aberdeen Book Club have had a busy start to the year. Last Friday ten of the members met at the Polka restaurant in Graaff-Reinet for a belated Christmas lunch, which was greatly enjoyed by all. Fortunately the ladies were given a private room, as the noise levels rose considerably during the course of the lunch! Many took the opportunity after for some shopping in Graaff-Reinet, then returned home, glad not to have to cook supper for themselves that evening.

This Tuesday was the first meeting of the year, held at the home of Sharon Landman. New books were discussed, with the members agreeing to differ over one of the most controversial books of 2012, Fifty Shades of Gray! Two sisters who are members of the group, Tanya van der Merwe and Theresa van der Merwe, both gave birth to their first child at the end of September, and there was much competition from the ladies to hold the little ones. Most are of the age where they no longer feel broody for themselves, but would love to have more grandchildren!

The next meeting will be held in February at Tanya and Albert van der Merwe's farm, a visit which is always eagerly anticipated.


Ladies of the book club


Another project that has been undertaken by members of the Aberdeen Ratepayers Association is the restoration of the town's cemetery. With all the rain at the end of last year, the weeds have almost taken over large areas of the cemetery, and many graves are almost hidden from site.

At the end of last year, a donation of Roundup weedkiller was obtained from the municipality in Graaff-Reinet, and a large area was sprayed in December. Unfortunately there was not sufficient weedkiller to cover the whole area, but a start was able to be made. Last week a team of municipal workers cleared up a small area of the weeds, which have been left in heaps around the cleared area. Ratepayers Chairman Tienie Appel has had discussions with the municipality, who have agreed in principal to provide a tractor and trailer to remove the rubbish. A few farmers from the Aberdeen district have offered to bring their labourers to help clear the weeds and load the trailer.

Another problem at the cemetery is the large amount of litter scattered around, from broken bottles to plastic bags. Apparently many youngsters have been seen hanging around there in the evenings, and from some of the rubbish found, it is suspected that drugs are also being used there.

The front wall near the main entrance has been broken down for well over a year. Under Appel's leadership, the Ratepayers have plans to rebuild the whole wall, as there seems to be no sign of anything being done by the municipality. An insurance claim has been pending for a long time, but the Ratepayers have decided to go ahead and fix it themselves, with donations given by many members of the community and farmers who have family members buried there.

It was noticed that the railings around the Anglo-Boer war graves, which were broken when a tree fell across them in the big storm of December 2010, have still not been repaired!


Overgrown area

Cleared area

Broken wall



For some time now the leiwater, or irrigation water, in Aberdeen has been reduced to a trickle, with many of the nearly one hundred properties serviced by the water actually receiving none. Residents with access to the water pay for the privilege – the water is free, but the money paid is for the maintenance and upkeep of the furrows. Many residents have complained to the municipality, with no apparent effect, and the furrows have remained overgrown and in many cases full of rubble, assorted bottles and garden refuse.

Tienie Appel, in his position as Chairman of the Aberdeen Ratepayers Association, has received many complaints in this regards, and at the end of December decided to do something about it himself. He started with a group of just three workers who he employed for the day on Saturday 29th December. Equipped with spades and pangas, the men set about clearing the area from the weir (near the bypass) towards the bowling club. The channel was choked with vegetation and assorted rubbish, ranging from shoes and clothes to bottles and rocks. On the Monday the men returned with four others, and by the middle of the day the water was already flowing again. A final assault was made on the channel on Saturday 5th January with three men, who again spent half a day clearing away vegetation and defining the edges of the channel.

Approximately 500m of the water course was cleared by the men in these three half days, and the difference in the flow of the water has been remarkable. Jean Watermeyer, chairlady of Aberdeen's Publicity and Tourism Office, is full of praise for the work that Appel initiated, and is very grateful that someone has stepped in to deal with the problem.

" I could not stand by and do nothing" said Appel. "Trees in the town are dying, along the streets and in private gardens. I have invested my life in Aberdeen, and will do all I can to restore the town to its former glory". Some other residents have contributed towards the cost of the workers, but Appel deserves the credit for organizing the project, and supervising the workers to ensure that the job was done.

Almost one hundred properties in the lower part of the town have access to the irrigation water, paying between R250 and R350 per year for the maintenance of the furrows. According to many older residents, in the past, the system was shut down, half of the town at a time, for about a week in the winter, for thorough maintenance to take place. This has not happened for many years, and the effects of this neglect are clear to see. The municipality is receiving close to R30 000 every year from those ratepayers with access to the water that is supposed to be used for this maintenance work – not a lot per month, but surely sufficient to maintain this unique system in working order.

According to Clive Kombani, he had applied to Graaff-Reinet for approval to employ casual labourers to clean the area some time ago, but has still not received this 



Makeover for Thembalesizwe Crèche

Members of the ward committee for Aberdeen (ward one) got together last Saturday to brighten up the lives off the youngsters who attend the Thembalesizwe crèche. Everyone contributed towards a supply of paint, and the members, together with councilors Desmond Coetzee and Thembisa Nonnies, a community development worker and a helpful member of the community set to with brushes and paint.

The original cartoon figures on the walls were badly in need of touching up, as they were badly faded, and the interior walls were also freshened up with a new coat of paint. The group spent most of the day on the project, and were justifiably proud of their efforts at the end of the day.




                                    Hillary Graham touching up one of the cartoons 


                                            The group of enthusiastic painters