Public heeds Salie’s call for help

Salie van Niekerk pictured in his new wheelchair, with Café Classic manager Achmat Sapat.

Salie van Niekerk is thoroughly enjoying cruising up and down Westgate Mall in his motorised wheelchair, which was bought with the help of the public.

Mr Van Niekerk, 46, from Rocklands, marketing manager at Café Classique, arrived at work in December last year, to a motorised wheelchair, which can recline, has an adjustable seat, headrest, speed control and hooter.

A beaming Mr Van Niekerk told the Plainsman on Thursday January 9 that he was grateful to everyone who supported his cause.

“I want to thank all of the people, who helped me to raise funds for the motorised wheelchair,” he said.

Initially the Plainsman wrote about Mr Van Niekerk’s appeal for help to upgrade his wheelchair with a battery at a cost of R3 500 (“Man needs help with wheelchair battery”, Plainsman June 19 2019).

Mr Van Niekerk, who was diagnosed with polio as a baby, attended Eros School for the Cerebral Palsied and Learning disabled, in Bridgetown, and used to work in Athlone.

His work at the café entails distributing flyers and engaging with customers daily.

However, with a manual wheelchair he had to ask them for help to get around and he often tired of having to push himself around.

After the June article, he went for an assessment, which determined that he needed a battery-operated wheelchair, with full back and neck support — to offer his body more support (“Salie needs motorised wheelchair”, Plainsman, August 14, 2019).

At the time he had raised R8 900 and shoppers had made generous donations in aid of the new wheelchair.

Mr Van Niekerk said local businesses like his place of employment, DStv, Autozone, ABSA, Ajax Cape Town Football Club, and Woolworths had all clubbed together to help him.

Rachel Trust Fund sponsored parts and CE Mobility helped in the assembly and upgrade of the wheelchair.

“I want to thank my parents, Shamiela Jappie and her husband Ismail, who stood by me and Achmat Sapat, manager of the café, who supported me all the way,” he said.

Mr Van Niekerk said the wheelchair could run for 24-hours after being charged and that it could also be manoeuvred manually.