Keeping eye on the ball all in a day’s slog

Dense grass at the West Bank cemetery becomes the scene of a weekly treasure hunt for four men who scour it for golf balls that have missed their mark.

ON THE BALL: Alfred Kili, 60, stoops to pick up a golf ball at the West Bank Cemetery.

After golfers playing at the West Bank Golf Club have enjoyed a busy weekend on the greens, the seaside cemetery is peppered with small round balls that sink into the weeds and overgrown graves.

They are worth R2 a pop – an income not to be sneezed at.

For Alfred Kili and his friends, who live in the Leaches Bay squatter camp, the balls are well worth hunting for. They are the difference between whether their families eat or not.

“We come here at 8.30am and walk through the cemetery until 1pm. Then we go and sell them for R2 each to the West Bank Golf Club,” he said.

When the Daily Dispatch came across the men, they were trudging through the graveyard in a horizontal line. They have trained their eyes to spot the little balls, which fly far from the fairways and thud to a standstill among the tangle of flowering weeds.

Kili has foraged for golf balls for 20 years. “I have four children and a wife to support,” he said.

Four men regularly scour the cemetery for rogue golf balls which they sell to the West Bank Golf Club for R2 each Pictures: ALAN EASON

By mid-morning Nelson Ndabeni had only found two balls. “That’s only enough for half a loaf and I want a full loaf of bread.”

His brother Steven Ndabeni, 39, was clutching just three balls.

“Sometimes I find 11 or 13 balls and then I can buy mielie meal, but with three balls I can only get bread.”

Sipho Skiti, 40, who also works as a weekend caddy at the club was having a good day locating overshot golf balls. He has been a golf ball hunter for 15 years. Skiti had eyed out eight balls, ensuring he was R16 richer, with still half a cemetery to go.

“I am lucky today,” he grinned. — barbarah@dispatch.co.za

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