A Woodstock couple have been living in their bakkie for more than a year.
Byron Stodel, 34, and his girlfriend, Chantel Ludlam, 45, stay in the broken-down VW Caddy in James Street.
The couple stayed in a house with Mr Stodel’s father in Woodstock before they sold it to a supermarket.
According to Ms Ludlam, they tried working on a farm in the Eastern Cape, but moved back after two months to stay with her mother in Athlone. They left when her mother wanted to rent her house.
“And we had to start making money as we ran out of money,” she says.
They bought the bakkie and started hiring it out, and Mr Stodel used it to do deliveries, while Ms Ludlam sold clothing from it. She also worked for a while at an art studio, but it has been closed because of Covid-19,.
“We stayed in a place in Roodebloem Road,” she says.
“Initially, we couldn’t afford rent, though with the business, we started to climb the ladder and could afford expenses there until the bakkie broke down.”
The bakkie was their main source of income. Without it, they could no longer pay their rent and were forced to live in the broken-down vehicle.
All their bedding, clothing, toiletries and personal belongings are in the bakkie.
The couple sleep at the back while their cat, Skitsie, and dog, Android, sleep up front.
Ms Ludlam says it gets cramped in the bakkie, but the community has been very supportive.
“They have been good towards us. At times, we would get a hot plate of food; we would get hot water in a flask, and people who stay down the road are always willing to share.”
She adds: “We just have to make the most of what we have.”
Woodstock Community Policing Forum chairman Youssef Kanouni has given the couple blankets and brings them bread daily.
The couple say they stay in touch with their family but don’t want to be a burden on them and rather want to make it on their own. They’re doing whatever odd jobs they can find, they say, to get the bakkie fixed. It needs a new clutch, a battery, a wheel, a spare wheel and tail lights.
Call Youssef Kanouni at 071 152 4062 if you want to help the couple.