Don’t steal my flowers, pleads Moses

Moses Jaftha with his flowers.

Moses Jaftha has been robbed, and he wants people to look out for
the thieves who are stealing his flowers.

He is well-known in Constantia where he has lovingly farmed cut flowers and fig trees.

Mr Jaftha’s family history stretches back to the 1800s when his great-grandmother, Susan Williams, grew flowers and strawberries in the area.

His family was one of many to be forcibly removed from their leased land in the late 1960s under the Group Areas Act and relocated to Grassy Park.

Mr Jaftha was later offered the Brounger Road land on lease when childhood friend Andre Badenhorst gave up his strawberry-growing business in the area.

Mr Jaftha is now passing his knowledge and passion on to his two sons, Charles and Malcolm, as well as employing three other people.

Recently, with gentle rain soaking the ground on the sliver of land in Brounger Road, watched by
wet horses in nearby stables with cocks, hens and ducks rooting around beneath the fig and plums trees Mr Jaftha grew from cuttings, he points to open patches of soil and the bone dry Spaanschemat River.

He says water has been plentiful in the past but no longer with climate change.

He should be planting now but there is not enough water.

He has installed water tanks and a well-point but there is still not enough water.

“We have been careful. We don’t use sprinklers anymore and water the plants where it’s really needed, by hand, which takes a lot of time,” he says.

However, this is not his main challenge at present. He says thieves have been stealing the flowers and it is not the first time.

He says he has approached Diep River police station in the past about this but he claims they are not interested.

Holding a bucket of dahlias, he says they are being cut but not sustainably and the thieves are taking the next crop.

“In 30 years gardening here, we’ve never had a problem and there has been no need for a fence, but recently it’s getting worse. They come over weekends,” he says.

With the drought, he started growing cacti but these too were stolen.

Mr Jaftha says his customers come from Newlands to Simon’s Town and in between, and they would notice if his flowers were being sold at traffic lights.

Instead, he says, they are being sold in the nearby Muslim cemetery in Spaanschemat River Road. “But it’s not the Muslims stealing the flowers, it’s the vagrants who live in the cemetery at night,” he says.

Yusuf Allie, who has been the caretaker at the Muslim cemetery, says he phones Mr Jaftha whenever he sees the flowers being sold.

Mr Allie says he has opened five cases, at Kirstenhof police station, of theft and vandalism of ornaments and flower pots, one of them for the time his shed was destroyed.

Mr Allie says he has been working in the cemetery as an assistant to his father-in-law since the age of 18. He says he made his first grave in the far corner of the cemetery when he was 12 years old.

Diep River police spokesman Sergeant Zak Marais says the flower garden falls under Kirstenhof Police.

Sergeant Deidre Solomon, spokesperson for Kirstenhof Police says only one case was opened by Mr Allie.