The community of Worcester and Hexvallei is in mourning after Alexander (Boetie) Kriel (63), a well-known farmer, entrepreneur and mentor, died of Covid-19 on Monday.
His wife, Christa, who also tested positive, was devastated by the news. Her condition has improved a lot.
Their daughter, Corné, and her husband, Jan, are in America and cannot attend a memorial service.
Christa, who turns 61 in self-isolation on Friday, is also upset that her mother, who lives in a nursing home in Laingsburg, cannot come and assist her either. “We will only go to our farm at Touws River later, maybe in six months or a year, to scatter his ashes. Hopefully everyone will then be able to say goodbye together, ”she says.
“Maybe our son, Pieter, can get a stone somewhere and then we can build a memorial stone for him,” she says with eyes full of tears.
Kriel was a native of the Hex Valley and until his death he was closely involved with the community. He has been at the helm of numerous extremely successful empowerment projects in the area and has been a pillar of support for many. He farmed with his son with table grapes and sheep.
According to his 41-year-old wife, Kriel, a diabetic who had to receive four insulin injections a day, was “extremely worried” that he would get the coronavirus.
However, he started feeling bad two weeks ago and lost his appetite. A doctor examined him but could not find any fault and said he should return if his condition deteriorated. He gave vitamin supplements and cough syrup to his “kuggie”.
He continued to work although his condition did not improve. When Christa got a headache, a dry mouth and other symptoms, a doctor found it to be Covid-19.
However, the couple were not admitted to a hospital. Kriel was only admitted to hospital last Monday after he started feeling very bad. That Tuesday night, he was transferred to the high care unit.
“Under those circumstances, you can’t really greet someone,” says Christa. “It was very bad for me that I could not even visit him, because I am also positive. I may only go home this Monday. ”
Christa describes Covid-19 as a “nasty plague”.
“It is a deadly plague that destroys lives. I prayed that God would spare my husband and that we could be 70 together, because there was still so much good we had to do together. . . ”
He was a great sportsman until the age of 40 and he was club captain of the Hex Valley Rugby Club. He was involved in the management of Hexvallei High School for about 12 years, where he was also a former pupil.
Kriel also served on the board of the Hex Valley Table Grape Association. “He served everywhere,” says Christa.
She says she has no idea how she is going to choose 50 people to attend his service. “So many people knew him, he left such deep footprints in the community.”
Agriculture was his passion from an early age, and he was a real entrepreneur, she says. “He traded with everything. I remember one time a truck with sheep in the back near us broke down, and he asked me for R3 000 to buy the sheep.
“I was furious with him,” she said, laughing. “But less than a week later, all the sheep were sold.”
She says: “I thank God for so many wonderful years. God is in control and I know he is in a better place now, at Jesus’ feet. ”