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Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund raises funds to support destitute pensioners in Zimbabwe with food parcels and essential items. ZPSF is entirely funded by the public.

A sad farewell to Pastor Attie Botha

 
...by Adrian Christopher Botha (son)
 
Surprisingly enough, Adrian Jacobus Botha was born a baby just like the rest of us in Gweru, Rhodesia on the 8th of January 1947. And just like every one of us, he entered this life with nothing – no clothes on his back – no hat to wear - no pink Cadillac. He was born to first-time parents, James Johannes Peter Botha and Maria Susanna Botha.
As this little bundle of joy grew, so too did his family. Attie had two brothers, Hannes and, James Attie two sisters, Engela and Jeanie.
Attie was an active and mischievous child growing up - as I am sure you can imagine. A story that springs to mind is of when he was innocently sitting in a classroom where a makeshift peach mampoer distilling system in the ceiling exploded, trickling its juicy contents down the classroom walls. Nobody ever claimed responsibility for the incident. The Taliban wasn’t around in those days.
Other stories include details like climbing drain pipes, “loaning” a hostel master’s car, water-skiing on car bonnets and stock car racing. But not all was mischief - he served his required conscription in the Rhodesian army.
Attie was a man who wore many different hats in his life, the first of which was one he loved to wear while driving.
 
The Windsor Cap.
From a young age, Attie had a passion for cars and engines. He drove, serviced, restored, and even built a variety of cars in his lifetime. From his first Hillman Minx to the Anglia that Liz learnt to drive in, to the blue Opel station wagon that he bought at the news of starting a family.
His vintage Dinky car collection was a formidable one as he bought, sold and traded hundreds of valuable little four-wheeled gems. At times of his life he would have the pleasure of owning and driving some real-life classic beauties.
Attie was a collector of many weird and wonderful things, including the hearts of many women, but the one thing that he always felt most lucky to find, was the heart of the true love of his life when he was 22 years old.
Attie was on his way to an action-packed night out with the boys, when he accidently tore his pants on, as fate would have it, the door-handle of a car. Plans had to change, so the boys decided to go to a local church social instead - they knew that there would at least be free food. It was there that he spotted the drop dead gorgeous 17-year-old redhead, Elizabeth Magdalena Cronje across the room. Tactfully, he introduced himself to Liz by trying to claim the last plate of food which just happened to be hers. Needless to say, it wasn’t this boisterous approach which made an impact, but rather the hypnotic spell that he unknowingly cast on Liz when she looked into his striking blue-green eyes for the first time. And there was probably also some charm thrown in.
 
The Hardhat.
He was “between jobs” at the time when LIZ asked ATTIE out for the first time to accompany her to her high school leavers dance which took place on the 29th of November 1969.
He worked as a coal fireman on the Rhodesian Railways where he received the “Most Immaculate Fireman” accolade in his white overalls, white cap, white shoes and even his own chrome-plated shovel with his name engraved into it. He was known to do everything with an immense sense of pride in his work.
Attie’s railway career started growing when he studied to become a Steam Engine Driver for the Rhodesian Railways. It was around this time that he asked Liz for her hand in marriage in September of 1970. They were married on 6th of February 1971, and almost instantly had their first bun in the oven. Starting a family motivated Attie to study to become a Diesel Engine Driver for the extra money it would afford his young family.
On the 29th of November 1971, Attie’s first-born son, James made his first public appearance - in a room full of medical students. I wonder what song he tried to sing when he cried his first hello? Two years later, Attie and Liz were blessed with the gift of another child – a very photogenic daughter, Cornelia.
All this breeding didn’t come cheap, and Attie knew it was time for a big change. Studying to become an Electric Engine Driver opened the doors for Attie to move to South Africa. In November 1974 Attie drove his growing family down to Vredenburg on the West Coast with the words “Cape Town or Bust” hand-painted on the back of their yellow and white Opel station wagon. Vredenburg was now their new home.
In 1978 Attie ordered a brand new green Rover car unbeknown to Liz. But unbeknown to him was the news that she was pregnant with their 3rd child. A baby boy was born on the 23rd of August 1979. Divine intervention prevented him from being named Rover in lieu of the car Attie wanted, and today I can proudly stand before you with my father’s birthname, Adrian.
Working as an electric train driver in South Africa had its perks for a better bank balance, but he didn’t like spending weeks on end away from his family. So Attie took up post as a Diesel Engine Driver on one of the mines in Welkom, Freestate. This gave him more time at home and an opportunity to become the family man he always wanted to be. He serviced and reconditioned cars to keep the bank balance ticking over during the 9 months he spent studying to become a hoist driver.
In 1983, Attie was offered an opportunity to manage Ritters Tree Felling in Durban. Three years later, he bought his silent partner out. Ritters Tree Felling became a huge success with Attie at the helm. It put all three of his kids through school and paid for college and overseas travel.
In 1994, Attie entered the world of Thermoplastic Engineering. After MORE studying, and the completion of a big commercial contract, he opened Polyfusion Thermoplastic Engineering which was also a thriving business that enabled Attie to buy his first house in celebration of his 25th wedding anniversary with Liz. The company also afforded him the opportunity to work with his brother-in-law, Pieter Cronje on patenting their own range of Pietat Thermoplastic Pipe Welding machines.
In 1997, God called Attie to take up the books AGAIN, but this time as a student of the ministry. We’ll get back to that in a bit…
 
The Fishing Hat.
Attie loved fishing. It was a sanctuary for him. Silently sitting on the banks of a river with the line rested gently on his forefinger, patiently waiting for a nibble before the bite, was the one thing he would love to do any day or night. Everyone in our family had our own rods as fishing often turned into big family outings. I distinctly remember a time we spent together on a Tiger Fishing boat trip on the glistening waters of Lake Kariba with a herd of elephants playing in the shallows alongside. But it didn’t stop at fishing. While living in Vredenburg, Attie also used to love freediving for Crayfish, hunting Perlemoen and Periwinkles, and dancing for Mussels.
 
The Sports Supporter Cap.
Attie was a sports supporter of note. Saturday afternoons were alive with the sound of Hugh Bladen’s rugby commentary, when it wasn’t drowned out by Attie’s cheering whenever the Springboks or Sharks scored a try or penalty kick.
The drama, suspense, and strategic playmaking of a Proteas test cricket match would have him glued to the TV or radio for days, with sporadic celebrations of a Protea boundary or the fall of an opposition wicket.
Sunday afternoons were often decorated with the humming of Formula One racing cars doing their rounds and Attie on the couch with his Ferrari cap on. Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher were two of his favourite drivers.
 
The Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund Cap.
Attie was also a supporter of people. He was a kind and generous man who would give the last of what he had, knowing that his God would supply all his needs. As an active member of the Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund, he found a great sense of fulfilment in hand delivering food parcels to those in need throughout Zimbabwe. He always talked about the immense gratitude he would receive from every smiling face he would meet along the way.
 
The Gorilla Mask.
Many will remember Attie for his naughty prankster streak. One of his favourite things to do was to give you the fright of your life. Over the years he had different scary masks ranging from a gorilla to a werewolf to a zombie. Other pranks would include props like rubber snakes, fake turds, severed limbs and of course whoopee cushions.
Attie had an infectious, often corny, whacky or irreverent sense of humour. Laughter was a medicine that he loved to dispense whenever a good opportunity presented itself. His smile was as genuine as they get, and he laughed with every fibre of his being.
Now back to that bit about the Ministry…
 
The “I love Jesus” Cap.
The first steps of Attie’s long and faithful walk with Christ happened when he was just 8 years old when his father, James took him to see American evangelist, Oral Roberts minister. Young Attie witnessed the power of God through the performing of miracles. That was the day that Attie answered the alter call and committed his life to the Lord in one of the prayer rooms offstage. Afterwards, Pastor Oral Robert personally came to Attie and his father for a quick word. He put one hand on Attie’s head and the other on his father’s shoulder, and said, “Sir, one day, this son of yours, is going to be a preacher of God’s word.”
From that day on, Attie, nurtured an impenetrable relationship with God through prayer and astute Bible study. All the beautiful things said about Attie here today bear testament to the lush vines of his unwavering faith which formed the golden tread of who he was in everything that he did.
Not many people know that Attie was born with extremely bad eyesight and grew up wearing ridiculously thick glasses. That’s because God healed Attie’s eyes when he attended one of South African minister, Fred Zeeman’s services while he was in high school.
This made Attie’s fire for God burn even brighter. He started spreading the Word by ministering to boys in his hostel. At first, these meetings would happen afterhours in the empty showers until one of the school masters eventually caught on, and made a special prep room available for Attie’s first little church. Many of the boys that attended these meetings gave their lives to Jesus and are still serving God today. Attie was affectionately nicknamed “Monk” for the rest of his school years.
Attie prayed for guidance or confirmation on the biggest decisions in his life, to keep his path as close as possible to that of his Heavenly Father. Which is probably why he ended up with such a strong, loving and steadfast wife.
His first real preaching mentor was Pastor Jannie Fourie, who used to take Attie to the ocean shore, and say, “Now preach, Attie, preach to the waves as if they are your congregation.”
Attie was always very involved in the Church wherever he went. He was a Youth Leader, Usher, Deacon, Elder, Marriage Councillor, Pastor, and Missionary. He was a shepherd for the lost and a mentor for those with a hunger for God’s Word.
Before he was ordained, ha had already started an English version of the AGS Church in Welkom, and preached at various men’s camps. It wasn’t long after his ordination in May 2000, that Pastor Attie Botha left South Africa to do missionary work in Mozambique. In June 2002 Attie and Liz started the Newlife Christian Church in Maputo. Today Newlife has grown into a vibrant church that has various outreach programs and satellite congregations throughout Mozambique.
Locally, Pastor Attie Botha was the minister at Hope Methodist Church in Modjadjiskloof for close on 10 years. He lead weekly prayer meetings for the Modjadjiskloof Police Station and was often invited to minister to the children at Duiwelskloof Primary School assemblies on special occasions. His sermons were fresh and lively – never without a touch of his infectious sense of humour.
Pastor Attie Botha was a very passionate man whose first passion in life was God. He used to say that if you offered him a million Rand to give up his Faith, he would choose his Faith.
 
The Beanie.
In his spare time while he worked full-time in the ministry, Attie loved working with his hands. His creativity came to life in his gardening, cooking, woodwork and clockmaking. Most of the people in this room today have at one point or another tasted the punch of one of his chilis or appreciated the craftsmanship in some of his other Sir Attalot creations. He was also very well skilled handy man that could fix pretty much anything.
His love for classic cars always remained, and led him to become an avid member of The Yesteryear Car Club.
 
The Hat my father didn’t get to wear.
This hat was a Christmas gift from my mom to my dad for Christmas 2017. He wears a bright halo today and for every day to come. Like this genuine leather, Attie crossed the finish line of a genuinely inspirational life race at noon on Saturday the 3rd of February in Tzaneen. His final steps towards his heavenly graduation took place with his loving wife, Liz Botha, and his sisters-in-law, Maria Barkley and Naomi McAlister at his bedside at the end of his remarkably valiant battle with cancer.
Ripples are felt when giants fall. Attie will live forever in the hearts and minds of everybody whose lives he touched in his own special way, and is in a place more beautiful than anything our mortal minds can imagine right now.
At the time of his passing, Attie was a devoted husband, a loving father, a dependable brother, an entertaining uncle, and a sincere friend to all that were blessed to know him.
Pastor Attie Botha is survived by his wife, Liz, his daughter, Cornelia, and his two sons, James and Adrian.
16 years of Service to the Pensioners in Zimbabwe
January 2018 ZPSF Update

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