Listen Live

GMA Extra: Tannie Hettie and Boetie have moved into their new home!

We met Tannie Hettie and Boetie about a year ago, when our friends at Cell-C, helped this family of two celebrate a special Christmas. This past week, Tannie Hettie and Boetie moved into their new home. The funds raised will be used to pay for them to stay in their home as long as they live. 

heti house


BACKGROUND:  We met Tannie Hettie and Boetie about a year ago, when our friends at Cell-C, helped this family of two celebrate a special Christmas. Hettie is a pensioner aged 69. She has been a single parent to her son, Sakkie, since he was17. She has dedicated her life to looking after and caring for Sakkie - affectionately known as "Boetie" by all who know them. Sakkie is 40 years old now. He was born with Downs Syndrome. He speaks limited words, has the mental capacity of an 8-year old and the physical condition of an 80-year old. At the time, they rented a small room, behind the Reformed church, Pretoria Wes, in Proclamation Hill. The rent took most of Hettie's monthly pension and with the balance of her pension, she buys food. Hettie used to bake Koeksisters to sell as an extra income, but the arthritis in her hands made it very difficult to do. They share a bed, as Sakkie needs help at night. She has no car and walks, while supporting Boetie, five kilometres to the shops. On the 5 kilometres back, she carries the groceries and supports Boetie. They've been mugged while walking three times. But still, Hettie is happy to love and care for Boetie - even if they have nothing else: no money, medical aid or other luxuries. 

Good Morning Angels Celebrated ‘A decade of Caring” at the Copperleaf Golf Estate on 12 April 2016. As part of the celebration, rather than focus on fundraising, it was decided and approved that a number of Charities and Charitable Causes. 

One of these was the ‘Be the Hero Foundation” that was so touched by Tannie Hettie’s story, that they committed to help raise funds to enable Tannie Hettie and Boetie to live in a home of their own. More than R200 000 was raised on the night through donations and auctions and in the end just under R600 000,00 was raised.

This past week, Tannie Hettie and Boetie moved into their new home. The funds raised will be used to pay for them to stay in their home as long as they live. 


Op hierdie wonderlike, rustige sondag wil Tannie Hettie en Boetie eerstens ons God van liefde en genade, eer en bedank vir sy hand van liefde en genade wat hy oor ons gehou het. Dankie vir almal se gebede, donasies, tyd wat hulle afgestaan het en Liefde om ons te help. Dit is op julle harte gelê en julle het na sy fluistering in die wind en julle harte geluister. Ons het hierdie week in ons nuwe huisie ingetrek en is baie gelukkig en dankbaar. Mag julle almal 'n geseende dag hê.

heti house 2


To who this may concern,

As a student I am writing this letter on behalf of my mother (Wilma) and her sister (Coleen). Looking at these two eager and determined woman I realised it is a necessity to share this heart-touching story. The life struggle of Hettie and her son Sakkie (or as we like to call him Boetie) has come to a critical point where they are in need of urgent help.

Hettie is a 68 year old woman dedicated to raise her boy. Sakkie is a 40 year old man suffering from a severe degree of Down syndrome even though he has miraculously outgrown is life expectancy. He has the brain capacity of an 8 year old and speaks limited words. His physical condition is of an 80 year old man and therefore you may understand the problems physically and frequent illnesses he endures with his condition.

His mother is a pure guardian angel on her own mission for 40 years to care and protect her son. In desperate times where no one was in sight she fought like a warrior this world of selfishness. Wave after wave she survived, but now arriving at the end she is longing for any support.

Hettie was married until Boetie was 17 years old when she had to get a divorce because of her alcoholic husband and an abusive relationship.  She then worked at the Air Force where she was dismissed in 2001. After that their hardship started snowballing. She did not work again after this except for small charity jobs performed for the church. She stayed with her brother in Danville from 2001 until the beginning of this year.

Their current situation is unfortunately as follows. At the moment they are staying in a small room behind the Gereformeerde Pretoria Wes church in Proclamation Hill, Pretoria. They do not have a car. There financial state is shocking. You must have wondered where the father is. Well, Boetie saw his dad 25 years ago and his father is paying a scandalous R600 towards Boetie’s maintenance and support monthly. In 1987 the father started to contribute R100 a month and now 28 years later the amount has only increased to a R600 monthly. Hettie took the father to court several times to plea for a little more, but each time the case was overruled. The father removed Boetie from his medical aid a few years ago and therefore Hettie is liable for all this medical expenses as she does not have a medical aid either. She is worried that if she gets sick that no one will be there for Boetie. (This is where my mom and Aunt Colleen will also play a big role)

Hettie receives a pension and disability fund monthly of R2960.  In conclusion Hettie receives a R3 560 income to live off. (Included is the father’s maintenance of R600)  The major issue is that the room behind the Church is R2500 per month. This means the money left over (which is R1060) is all they have to buy the month’s food, medicine and other necessities. Apparently the church requires a R250 rent increase each year as well. Hettie emphasises how she makes sure that Boetie gets a balanced meal(s) daily even if it means that sometimes she can’t eat that day.

Hettie is in need of a bath for Boetie as he does not have a lot of control over his body and can get hurt very easily, but unfortunately the room they are staying in at the moment only has a shower. She currently baths him in a small plastic tub. They sleep together in one bed, because he chokes sometimes when he sleeps.

Hettie can never leave Boetie alone at home and needs to take him along when she does her once in a month grocery shopping. Just to paint the picture it is important to note that Boetie cannot walk like a normal person. His feet are shaped inwards and walks very slowly. If he needs to walk at normal pace he needs someone who he can lean on to support him. Boetie is also very nervous in public place and sometimes becomes histerical. The nearest grocery centre (Quagga Centre) is a 5km distance from their home. So each month Hettie needs to walk the long distance with Boetie leaning on her to buy groceries and collect her pension and disability moneys. I have so much respect for this courageous woman that on her old age of 68 she still stays strong for her son and performs her duties as a mother. When walking back home she now needs to support Boetie and carry all the grocery bags on her own. She must at all times try to stay clear of large groups of people. Boetie experiences Closter phobia and fear of heights.

It should be mentioned that the route they need to walk is very dangerous and that they have been mugged three times! The criminals will hurt them and push them to the ground and steal the little that they have. It is heart breaking that this had to happen to these two angels. Only a few family members helped them this past two decades. Hettie made some extra income from baking Koeksisters for another church, but the arthritis has increased in her hands and wrists which made it very difficult to carry on with this job.

It is amazing how Hettie at all times ensures that Boetie looks his best even though the money is scarce. Hettie is a proud woman while through the years poverty lurked. She has sacrificed her life for Boetie by putting him first all the time. I feel she also deserves a happy ending and like every other woman the chance to feel like a princess.

At this moment we are so relieved that we have found them. My mom and her sister were up to now never aware of their situation and that some family members always ensured them that they are fine. We are confident that God has sent us to them with the ability to make big changes to their circumstances.

We have discussed a possible action plan among ourselves. At the moment we have agreed to relocate Hettie and Boetie to a more secure location and have been searching for properties in the price range of R500 000.(One bedroom townhouse with a small garden) The family is able to contribute the monthly payments, but is in need of a deposit for the property.

Other donations such as food, help with a medical aid or medicine will also be deeply appreciated. Hettie does not have a funeral cover and is in need of such an input. A means of transport will also have a major contribution to their life style. Hettie and Boetie haven’t received any birthday or Christmas presents in a very long time, but this year we are determined to change this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I hope you are just as motivated as us to be part of this project and help change some lives who really deserve the best.

Kind Regards

Thealize van der Walt  

Show's Stories