Story and Pictures by Chris Marais & Julienne du Toit
There’s one mountain pass down on Route 62 that puts our Karoo Space bakkie in a foul mood.
It’s the Huisrivier Pas outside Calizdorp in the Klein Karoo, and the long gradients have become too challenging for our aged Isuzu 250 KB of late.
She’s 16 years old, done 320 000 hard kilometres, taken us all over southern Africa and helped us compile at least 10 books. So who can blame the veteran bakkie for having lost a bit of oomph in her dotage?
Aches, Pains & Tough Decisions
But the bakkie then began to pick up all kinds of other aches and pains, and sometime this year we had to decide: a total reconditioning or new wheels? Maybe ‘trade down’ and buy a cheaper, second-hand vehicle from a different manufacturer?
“Karoo mechanics know these old KB’s very well,” we were told. “And besides, your bakkie is a legend. So many adventures. Why not fix her?”
We whole-heartedly agreed. If you had to compare a vehicle brand with a dog breed, we would always twin the classic Isuzu KB with a long-haired German Shepherd. They are both faithful, dauntless and endearing. (Disclosure: we also have a long-haired Shep – his name is TwoPack).
C.A.T. Motors Steps In
That’s when our home dealership in Cradock, C.A.T. Motors, came to the rescue. They took the Karoo Space bakkie in for a couple of days and assigned their KB specialist, Riaan van Dyk (who kept his own 250 KB Isuzu bakkie going well beyond the 1 000 000km mark) to check it from top to bottom.
The list of ailing parts was fearsome. However, Shaun Jordaan, Financial Manager at C.A.T. Motors, was up to the challenge. He made it his mission to source the original-brand parts and Riaan installed them.
And the bill? Well, here’s the thing: there was no bill.
“Karoo Space has been our client for 12 years,” says Jordaan. “Our job has been to keep them on the road, getting their stories all over the Karoo. In the Isuzu spirit of adventure, we have joined Chris and Julie in their projects and are proud to be promoting the Karoo.”
In the Time of Drought
Now you have to know something about life out here in the heartland of South Africa. We are in the death grip of a drought that seems to know no end. In some places there are seven-year-old children who have never seen rain.
Farmers have lost almost all their livestock in large areas of the Northern and Eastern Cape. Their retirement funds and other policy monies were spent a long time ago. There is no water, the windpumps are failing, fields are barren, farmworkers have been laid off, fuel has to be rationed and the last, wheezing taps in many homesteads are coughing up brackish water. Soon they too will dry up and then there is no option for the farmer and his family but to leave and look to survive in a town or city somewhere.
When something like this hits the farming community, the local town suffers along with it. And no new vehicles are sold. There’s hardly any money to even bring the old bakkie in for a service.
So it is incredible to think that in this dire economic climate, a dealership like C.A.T. Motors in Cradock should come to the rescue of a couple of local freelance journalists. In fact, we’ve never heard of a small town car dealership helping their home media in such a way.
“We should all pull together during this time,” says Shaun Jordaan. “That’s the only way we’re going to make it.”
Enter Jacques Jordaan
His father Jacques, the Dealer Principal at C.A.T. Motors, also led by example when he organised a four ton side-tipper truck from Isuzu South Africa for the use of the Cradock Community Forum “Clean Up, Fix Up, Paint & Plant” project that has dramatically cleaned the little river town of late.
In the mornings, various members of the Forum contact Jacques on the group WhatsApp board to let him know where the Isuzu tipper truck is needed for the day. The truck will be available for the next few months – lots of time to get the long-standing trash piles sorted and moved to the dump.
“It has been a huge help to us,” says Lou Venter, head of the Forum.
- Next week, the new and improved Karoo Space bakkie takes on the Huisrivier Pas again, as part of a fast, two-week, 15-town trip. Watch this space for more images and updates!