Gogo Thwala, 82, from Naas near Komatipoort, wept when Saleem Patel handed her the keys to her fully furnished house over the weekend.
“Back in 1957 I had a dream where I saw myself owning a very big house with stylish walls and tiles. When I first went to Patel to buy a litre of paraffin about four years ago he gave me the paraffin for free as I was a regular customer. One day he came to my house and gave me food. Since then I have never bought food,” said Gogo Thwala. “Just last year when I thought I had seen enough Patel came to me and asked that I move out because he wanted to destroy my one-roomed house and build me a bigger one.”
Gogo Thwala said she initially thought Patel was joking until she saw construction vehicles in her yard.
“Even though I call him my angel, I did not think he was serious at the time. I moved in with my daughter and when I came back this year the house was fully built. He has now given me the keys and is building a security wall. He has told me that I will always get free groceries. I think the dream I had all those years ago were showing me this angel. It is clear that this man was sent by God,” said Thwala.
Patel, who owns Patel Hardware, said Gogo Thwala was always buying something at his shop, so he decided to find out where she lived.
“I was surprised to learn that she lives very close to my shop. So, I made a decision to feed her. I know she has a daughter who got married; sometimes two of her grandchildren visit her, but I realised I must build her a house using my newest, most expensive and stylish stock,” he said.
The photo-shy businessman said Thwala is now like a mother to him.
“She is my South African mom. She calls me her angel and I always spend time laughing with her,” said Patel.
Patel’s hardware business employs 200 permanent locals at his shop in KaMhlushwa. He employs 150 on a temporary at his shop in Naas.
“Soon I’ll be calling all my employees and locals to come celebrate the official handover of the house,” he said.