And not even the Covid-19 lockdown could stop them from celebrating the milestone, as the two, aged 79 and 81 respectively, held a virtual celebration with their family on Thursday July 30.
Their granddaughter Janine Minnaar hosted a virtual event and a documentary, which was five years in the making. While it was never meant to be screened, when it became clear that the 60th anniversary fell within the lockdown, Janine thought it best to premiere the video to her grandparents and immediate family. Jesrael Jacobs, their grandson, edited the video, titled Dinges: The Documentary.
Among others, says Janine, it covers an array of her grandparents’ experiences over 60 years of marriage, from their childhood memories to professional jobs, from the heartbreak of losing their
7-year old daughter, Elaine Jaftha, in 1970, to the joys of an everlasting love.
The couple are originally from Elsies River, they later moved to Bontehuewel for 16 years and then ended up in Westridge – residing in the community for 43 years.
The couple got married in Stellenbosch in 1960, where Ms Jaftha lived as a child.
They met in Hugo Street, Elsies River. Mr Jaftha worked at the Cape Technical College at the time and always brought a bouquet of flowers home for his mother, which Ms Jaftha noticed. They started talking about the flowers and the rest is history, said Mr Jaftha.
Ms Jaftha was a tea-maker at a medical association. She learned how to do some filling, delivered letters to the post office and later ended up being a creditor’s clerk.
Their late daughter Elaine had a heart condition, which they did not pick up immediately and she kept saying she was feeling tired.
“Most times we had to carry her to help her get by. She was admitted to the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital where South African surgeon Christiaan Barnard worked on her heart condition when she went for operations,” said Ms Jaftha.
She went to school and the hospital for her regular check-ups. She fell ill after a while and passed away due to her worsened heart condition and her heart collapsed, said Mr Jaftha.
“When the lockdown hit us, we were sad as we would not be able to see our family often,” said Mr Jaftha.
He kept himself busy, he said, by creating artwork, drawing, painting and sometimes creating pictures out of rice – and he gives his art away to anyone who wants it. “I am willing to share my art, I cannot sit still during the lockdown,” he said.
Janine describes this endeavour as a labour of love, a look-back at the pivotal moments that made their grandparents the marvellous people they are today, while also serving as a legacy project that the grandchildren can hold on to in years to come.
The idea for the documentary originated from a series of conversations Janine had with her grandparents. She soon realised that there is so much of their lives they don’t yet know as a family, and so decided to capture their lives on film.
With four children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, the whole family got the opportunity to bear witness to the wealth of stories and life experiences of their grandparents.
“They remain a shining example of generosity, compassion and love,” said Jesrael.