Albertinia, South Africa: this small village in the Eden District of the Western Cape, found en route from Cape Town to Mossel Bay, has served as the home of GeraasPlaas and some glorious Metal enjoyment. It has also been home to the Bester family, hosts of GeraasPlaas on their farm Zout van de Aarde; home of Wian Bester, guitarist for Death Metal band Imperial Destruction and bass player for The Fallen Prophets.
What was not widely publicized at the time was that just before the New Year of 2016, Ian Bester, Wian’s father, had committed suicide. It is believed that the financial pressures had become too much for the farmer to bare. Notwithstanding, in honouring a lost husband and a lost father’s memory, the surviving family consisting of Sharon Bester and her sons Wian and Ivan, decided to pursue his dream of farming and continue the business. In the nearly two years since Ian’s passing, a gradual turnaround at Zout van de Aarde was beginning to show promising results, pushing back against the large debt left behind.
The full magnitude of the tragedy
Wian’s life in music and as an active performer began years before the family moved to the farm, and was wholeheartedly supported by his parents. However, without a strong presence on the property at all times, opportunity existed for those who could watch family comings and goings from a close distance and to make their plans accordingly.
On the weekend of 28-29 October, Wian visited Cape Town to perform a series of shows, and for the first time was accompanied by his younger brother. On the same weekend, a farm worker resident on the property is believed to have forced entry to the family home where the boys’ mother Sharon remained. Alone and defenseless, she was unable to repel the assailant and was strangled to death.
A 20 year old suspect was apprehended within three days, stolen goods still in his possession, and he offered a confession to the killing. He awaits trial.
Within less than two years, the Bester brothers, aged 24 and 17, have lost both of their parents and been forced to live for three weeks in an unsecured home where their mother was murdered. Furthermore, family business accounts have been frozen by the bank, denying the boys any means of feeding themselves or to continue the running of the farm. It is unknown at this time when the matters of estate will be settled, or what these will bring to bear, or when cash will be allowed to flow again.
Undivided Legion, a silver lining to the blackest of clouds
At this time of publishing, a lot has already been done to aid the Bester brothers. The home has been secured by means of repair to the damaged door, and a security gate installed. Members of the Metal and Albertinia communitieshave come forward in a show of support; be it emotional, practical, or financial. Shopping vouchers, food parcels and cash for petrol have reached the boys. Yet the fight for survival is far from done. If anything, it has only started.
At this juncture, we shift our focus to Jo Mariè Smit and the initiative she has put into motion with Undivided Legion, a support effort established to assist metalheads in need and inspired by the plight of her former band mate and partner. With her campaign going live on social media two weeks ago to raise funds for an unnamed beneficiary, results have been encouraging with aid pouring in from friends, community members, and even a few anonymous donors.
“Wian and Ivan’s story inspired me to create the foundation, Undivided Legion, because he is a good friend and a stone pillar for SA Metal and needs all the support he can get”. ~ Jo Mariè Smit (coordinator, Undivided Legion)
Undivided Legion, support roll-out strategy
Live on air last night – via OneFM 94.0 community radio station – Jo Mariè described how she and her collaborators have devised an approach consisting of short, medium and longer term planning in an aid strategy. With in view that the farm – if sustained – can produce harvest in February/March 2018, Wian and Ivan can attain self-sustenance. Until then, Undivided Legion sounds the call for continued support. (listen to the show and interviews here)
Short term: Weekly Donations
For most immediate results, Undivided Legions calls upon any donors to assist with the following:
1. Grocery vouchers from/for Spar Supermarkets (specifically, as only this grocery chain operates a branch nearby) of any value. These vouchers can be collected from anywhere in the greater Cape Town area and delivered to Albertinia weekly.
2. Cash donations via EFT will also be beneficial to offset petrol costs for farm activities and to assist with other non-grocery needs, such as fertilizers and other farm operating materials.
Medium term: nationwide benefit gigs
Throughout December, January, February and March Undivided Legion will be represented in a number of South African cities where participating bands will perform and offer all door takings to the foundation. The metal-loving public is invited to support with their wallets knowing that 100% of takings will benefit the intended beneficiaries.
The first show in the series will kick off on 02 December at The Rabbit Hole in Durbanville, featuring Nebula Disrupt, Red Tape Rebellion, Mind The Child and Abaddon. (visit facebook event page)
Longer term: True Believer affiliation
Whilst harvest in February/March may bring relief, Jo Mariè feels that Undivided Legion should like to follow the Bester brothers’ campaign through until June, whereby they should have had ample opportunity to find their feet again, emotionally and financially.
As from January 2018, existing members and/or new members of True Believers – the funding initiative which keeps the www.metal4africa.com website in operation – will be extended an option to increase a small amount their membership fee, or to redirect a portion of their existing membership to assist the campaign until it reaches conclusion. Owing to the complexity of this process, it will not be available until the new year until the infrastructure has been developed to accommodate it. However, it will surely prove an effective and simple solution for supporters committed to seeing the project achieve its goal.
Jo Mariè’s vision includes that Undivided Legion should outlive the immediate campaign so as to also seek out and assist future metalheads in need.
“It is Undivided Legion’s mission to raise funds for metalheads in need, and Wian and Ivan are the first beneficiaries of the donations we receive”. ~ Jo Mariè Smit
Jo Mariè tells us that a total of 24 donors have stepped up so far, with 22 raising R14,510.00 in goods, vouchers and cash, plus 2 donors transferring airtime and data directly to Wian.
How to contribute
Until further notice, the best means of getting in touch with Jo Mariè is via email at email@example.com or via message inbox at the Undivided Legion facebook page.
Anybody willing to offer the following are invited to get into contact:
- Food vouchers
- Cash via EFT
- Volunteered services
- Bands interested in playing a benefit show
“At this point in time we would like to give a huge thanks to each and every single person who has made a donation, offered a service or contributed in another way. For now, we are in need of metal bands from Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Jeffrey’s Bay to contact us if they would like to perform at one of the fundraising gigs. We also need cash donations and Spar shopping vouchers on a weekly basis”. ~ Jo Mariè Smit