Here’s how Cape Town’s favourite ice cream man is getting the help from the public after EWN Sports story on his struggles.
“I’m healthy. It’s only my eyes that are critical. If I can get some help, I will be the happiest man in the world.” Picture: Kaylynn Palm
Fans and strangers have come to the aid of Boeta Cassiem, Cape Town’s favourite ice cream seller, who is need of a cataract operation.
Since EWN Sport published Cassiem’s story on Monday, benefactors from as far as the UK have come forward to offer financial assistance, and it now seems like Cassiem’s wish will be granted.
The 66-year-old has been selling ice cream at sports venues like Newlands Cricket Stadium in Cape Town for more than 55 years. Without live sport under lockdown Level 3, Cassiem is unable to work and earn a living, relying instead on his old age grant. Over the years, cataracts have developed in his eyes, making life difficult for him.
“I’m healthy. It’s only my eyes that are critical. If I can get some help, I will be the happiest man in the world,” Cassiem said.
Cassiem’s story has even prompted one supporter to raise more funds by doing a Facebook live challenge. Scott Arendse will be running in his yard for six hours while carrying a cooler box in honour of Cassiem. The money raised will go towards Cassiem’s eye operation.
“I saw the video on Boeta Cassiem and felt very sad and moved by his situation. I have gone to cricket and rugby for many years and Boeta Cassiem is an institution and such a pleasant guy. I had the honour of meeting him while out to dinner with a friend of mine who is a cricket umpire,” said Arendse.
Arendse’s Facebook challenge will take place on 20 June, starting at 7am. You can follow the challenge here.
One cricket journalist who donated money remarked, “That man makes me smile every time I go to Newlands.”
Some benefactors have known “Boeta” for many years and had befriended him. Others have never met Cassiem, but he has been a part of their sporting experience for decades.
“We’ve been watching cricket from the President’s Pavilion stand at Newlands together for 30 years, and have always loved Boeta’s spirit,” said one benefactor.
Another person, living in the UK who wanted to remain anonymous, remembers Cassiem from many years spent in Cape Town. He empathised with Cassiem because he too has had eyesight problems in the past and hoped his substantial donation will help.
Based on current projections, the sport industry is unlikely to see full stadiums again for a long time. The business of sport will go on without fans. Leagues will start and conclude behind closed doors, until it’s safe for a limited amount of people to attend.
The absence of live sports has robbed fans of feeling connected. The virus has shut down an important outlet used by many to relieve the pressure brought by life; by sharing a drink, exchanging hugs and high fives and yes, buying ice cream.
“If I sit at home, I will get old before my time. People say I always look the same. I look the same because I don’t sit at home. When the cricket and rugby starts again I can go wherever I want to,” Cassiem said.