For the first time in years, Berenice and Hilton Plaatjies’s children will have Easter eggs for Easter, thanks to News24 readers
Berenice will also be able to pay the fishmonger who allowed her to buy two tiny fish on credit so her family can have the traditional pickled fish on Good Friday, along with the complementary hot cross buns.
In little more than a week, News24 readers raised R15 000 for the Plaatjies household after reading about their plight of surviving solely on social grants amounting to R1 050.
What readers raised for the family is more than a year’s worth of government grants. With it, the family will finally be able to fill up their empty kitchen cupboards for the first time in as long as Berenice can remember.
Berenice, who refers to herself as her household’s “Minister of Finance”, spoke candidly to News24 in February about her monthly struggle to make ends meet for her family, that includes her three young children, Zoe, seven, Ashwin, 13, and Donique, 16. Monique, 19, graduated from a special-needs school.
Berenice and her husband live in a council flat in Hanover Park with 16 other people. They have not had a fixed income since Hilton lost his job more than a year ago.
When News24 visited the Plaatjies family to hand over the money on Thursday, an incredulous Berenice clutched the white envelope, speechless that strangers had given her and her family a lifeline.
“Lord knows we needed this,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.
“I didn’t know this would happen. It’s not the reason I told my story. But I appreciate it so much.”
The Plaatjies was one of three families featured in a News24 series that put the spotlight on those who depend solely on government social grants.
At the time, Berenice explained how she tried to stretch the little money the family received to last a month: R500 for basic groceries and toiletries, R300 for electricity, and R120 for rent.
The only treat in their home is on birthdays, when Berenice pinches off a few rands to buy a cake.
‘All I can say is thank you’
Offers streamed in to help Berenice.
Local and international readers made donations of between R50 and R2 500. One donor said the Plaatjies’s story reminded him of his own childhood. Another offered to bake a cake for each of their children’s birthdays.
One reader said her contribution should go towards buying little Zoe the doll she had seen and wanted at Shoprite.
Berenice was previously unable to buy it because she had more important expenses. The money would last her family a very long time, Berenice said.
“All I can say is thank you to each one who gave a contribution to all of this. After I have bought groceries and a small Easter bunny for the children, this money will only go towards necessities. It will never be wasted.”
Hilton now also has a contract job as an electrician and they are grateful for the extra income.
In total, more than R20 000 was raised for the featured grant recipients. The donations were distributed as specified by the individual donors.