Senwes Silo - bin of love

The 30-year old Jaco Marais, a scientific chemist working in construction in Kroonstad at present, first approached his friends Fanie Kamfer, a producer living near Mareetsane, and PC Payne from Pretoria for advice on how to propose to his girlfriend, Claudette Otto. However, they were still thinking about it when Jaco found the perfect place - Attie Silo.

“I once went to visit my parents Koos and Mientjie in Sasolburg and when I returned, I saw the silo and decided to take a chance - "this is a farming community after all", said Jaco. He went to chat to the silo manager, Gawie van der Merwe, and asked if he could propose to his girlfriend at the top of the silo. This was after he had already asked Claudette's parents, Ben and Hannetjie Otto, for their daughter's hand in marriage. According to Jaco, Gerrie was very nice and after a quick call to his regional manager, Mike Jacobs, the deal was done and Jaco had to start planning. During a quick tour, he learned more about silos. However, it was not too difficult since his uncle, Louis Kleynhans, has a mill in Ventersdorp and Jaco has a technical background after all. Ten days after having approached Gawie, it was time to propose to Claudette, on Thursday, 31 May.

But let's go back a bit first. Jaco and Claudette met in Potchefstroom in 2009, when he was a third year student in Microbiology and Biochemistry and she was a second year Psychology student at the Pukke. He immediately noticed her at a bingle-sêr because she is so pretty, but they didn't talk much. However, they sang a duet together at a concert two weeks later, but nothing much came of their first encounter.

Eight years later, during the first weekend of September 2017, he took part in a race in the Paarl with his friends. She saw a photo on Facebook and contacted him.  He thought: "I'm sure this girl is confusing me with someone else".  Funny enough, it was in fact the case - she actually confused him with someone else, but he knew exactly who she was. Fortunately, they have been together every weekend since then. He asked her to be his girlfriend on 21 October in Scottburgh, being the reason for having to get the silo ready.

31 May started as a rainy day. He made her believe that he was going for an interview at the silo and that he had arranged a silo tour for them. She took the bait - they used the elevator, steps and cat ladder to the top and when her head appeared at the top of the silo, she saw the lights, drapes and picnic atmosphere, and her friend Tharien Coetzee, ready with the camera. He went down on one knee and proposed as the sun set. All Claudette could manage was “What, what, what and a yes”, and they celebrated until late, enjoying the snacks which Gawie's wife helped to keep warm for the big day.

The silo was the perfect place from which to look out over the horizon at the silhouettes of various nature scenes. Silo manager Gawie tells us that, on a clear day, one can see the silos of Groenebloem, Heuningspruit, Rooiwal and Geneva. The silo work house of 55 metres high and the 10 large silo bins with a capacity of approximately 5 000 tons each, and four smaller ones of 1 200 tons each, created the perfect backdrop for Jaco and Claudette.

After 22 years in the silo industry, this was a first for Gawie. He jokingly said: “We handle everything here, from maize, sunflower, soya beans to engagements.” Jaco says he doesn't know why some or other farmer has never thought about it.

The engaged couple live in the area and they will see the silo on a regular basis. Whenever Gawie and his staff hear a car hooting, it will probably be Jaco and Claudette driving past and thinking of their special day.

Their pet names, namely Mouse and Liefdelyfie, may just change to my Kernel or Sunflower, or even my Silhouette.

Enjoy your wedding day on 3 November at Muldersdrift and best wishes for the future!

Silo greetings from Senwes.