Gertruida Fransman

Gertruida Fransman is known as Antie Trooi. She was born on a farm named Onder-Swartvlei and was 74 years old at the time of the interview.

Gertruida Fransman is one of nine children, and speaks about her years growing up on the farm and of taking care of the farmer’s children from a young age. She shares stories of swimming in the river, the waterbaas (water boss) and Jantjie’s ram.

Getruida Fransman is known as Antie Trooi. She was 74 years old at the time of the interview and was born on Onder-Swartvlei Farm. She did not go to school and started taking care of the farmer’s children at an early age. Her parents were born on Onder-Swartvlei, and her mother recently passed away there. Her husband lived on Bo-Swartvlei, and she moved there when they got married. On the farm where she grew up they farmed with wheat, which was harvested with a harvester. She had to take lunch to her father every day when he was harvesting. They had to fetch water from the river and make roosterbrood. She is one of nine children. They always walked barefoot because her parents could not afford to buy them shoes. In the cold mornings when everything was covered in dew they warmed their feet by the fire and were happy when the sun came out and the day got warmer.

They went to the river on Sunday afternoons, but she never learned to swim, because the older boys would push the younger children’s heads under water and she did not like that at all. She sat on the riverbank and ran away when the older boys came. The waterbaas (water boss) looks like a person but its bottom half is a fish’s tail. There is also a snake that lives in the river. It pulls you into the hole it lives in and is king under the water, wanting you to love him back. The waterbaas catches you so the snake can have you. You can come and go during the day, but at night you must return to your new home with the snake. People have got lost in the river, but all were washed up on the shore. People said that the waterbaas had caught them.

Gertruida tells of Jantjie’s Ram, saying it is as big as a dog. Her husband once called to the dog of an old lady and it turned to him with big red eyes. He said it was not her dog, but Jantjie’s Ram. She says these kinds of things happen on Sunday nights, and she is always cautious. She also speaks of a creature that has lots of little feet and rolls around called a dassie-adder (hyrax-viper). It catches you with wire, licks you and swallows you. Gertruida was told this as if it were the truth. Once she saw unusual footprints and her grandma told her it was this creature.


My name is Gertruida Fransman, but they call me Auntie Troi, my pet name, Auntie Troi. And I’m 74 years old. I was born on the farm Lower Swartvlei. I didn’t go to school, I – before I could go to school, I had to start working, among the farmers, looking after children and so on. That was how I started learning how to work. First with children. And my ma and my pa were from Lower Swartvlei. My ma was born on Lower Swartvlei and she died there last month, on Lower Swartvlei. And my pa also died a few years back. And, so that’s where I grew up as a child. From there I then – as a grown-up, I met my husband and then… my husband was from this farm, Upper Swartvlei, so from Lower Swartvlei I moved to Upper Swartvlei, where I’m still living today. On the farm.

How was your childhood?

Yes, my childhood, in those days I simply worked, and saw how people – in those days they cut the wheat into sheafs, with the sickle, threshing machines; they didn’t have combine harvesters in those days like today, they threshed with the threshing machines. Threshed the chaff out of the, out of the dinges*, out of the sheafs. And from those sheafs they made flour, and then us children had to, in the late afternoon, afternoons we had to take food to Pa at the thresher. In the afternoon we had to take them coffee. In those years, our childhood years. And we had to go fetch wood in the mountain, and we had to, carry water. Not like today. Where we now have water in the houses. We had to carry it in buckets, out of the ditch, out of the furrows, home. Wood we had to get in the mountain. To make a fire. Bread we baked on the fire, in flat pots. And we braaied* grill bread*. On the grill. Thus we grew up in our childhood years. It wasn’t like now. When everything is comfortable.

In those days we, we had to walk barefoot because there wasn’t money for Pa and Ma to buy us shoes, because we had, my ma was, had nine children, and she couldn’t support all nine with the little money that they earned in those days. In those days people didn’t earn much. Pa and Ma didn’t yet earn a lot. Earn money. We just had to walk barefoot. Making a fire in the morning so that we could warm our feet at the fire, and we were glad when the sun appeared, then it was warm again. The dew was lying white in the mornings, but we simply had to walk the dew dry, there was no escape, there wasn’t any choice, we just had to do it. Because we had to walk to where Pa and Ma were, we couldn’t refuse, say no. I had to go ask that auntie for a little sugar, or I had to go and ask that auntie for a little coffee, I had to walk. In those days.

Did they tell you stories, maybe the older people, when you went swimming in the river? Are there maybe stories, river stories?

Yes, I always… on Sunday afternoons we always went to the river, but I never learnt to swim because the older boys pushed our heads under the water and I never liked it. I went to the edge of the river, then they came swimming to fetch me, then I ran away. Because I didn’t want to… I didn’t want my head under the water, but many children enjoyed it. Their heads under the water. But I didn’t like it at all. I always ran away.

Are there maybe stories that they told of people living in the river?

Yes, they always spoke of the water boss. I was so scared of this water boss.

What did they say? What does the water boss look like?

They say he’s human above, below he’s fish, and then there is a snake and, this snake licks you so that you can grow accustomed to them when they have pulled you in. You are now in this hole,  where they live. There the snake licks you so that you become fond of them. Apparently this snake is the king under the water. The water boss is only there to pull you in. But they say that down there is like here, under the, under the water. Is just like here, you can go out, and tonight you have to go back in. Tomorrow you go out to work again, tonight you come in again.

Did people here disappear like that?

People have disappeared here, but I don’t know whether the story is a true story. But people have drowned here in the rivers. But they were again washed out after, after ehh…

Did people then say it was the water snake?

Yes. They say it’s the water boss that… takes people like that.

Have you heard of Dirk Ligter?

Huh uh.

Do you perhaps know of Bushman drawings that are close by?

No. I haven’t seen that. We walked around a lot in the mountains, for many years we went to get broom reeds there. Far, there behind in the mountains, we went to get broom reeds.

Do you perhaps know hunting stories or ghost stories that your mother and them told you?

No. I don’t know ghost stories that they told me but what I experienced when we were still children. They always said there was a lot of haunting. And I never wanted to believe the story about the haunting, and one evening at sundown – the woman lives, my cousin, she also lives there at Lower Swartvlei. Now then, in the evening the uncle – Grandpa Apollis who has since passed – brought us, he brought us back. Now, as we were approaching this tree, a dried cowhide fell out of the tree. And this hide (inaudible 07:51).

Then I also believed, I believed that evening that there could be ghosts because why did the hide fall out of the tree like that? So there were probably ghosts, because a dried hide wasn’t like that, was it? That evening we turned tail and ran back, because Sunday evenings we still had to go dance and play, we didn’t go home after work. On Sunday evenings I always had to, had to go in, to the farm. I had to collect eggs and make coffee and fill the bottle with coffee for the nooi* and the baas*. For the morning. Now, I had to do this on Sunday evenings, take out the eggs. So I didn’t go home from there; no, from there we first had to go play. And we went dancing, that kind of thing. We still did. And on our way back, this thing happened to us. With the cowhide. And one evening, after this – we still didn’t listen. We again went from the yard one Sunday evening. Down. And returned the evening, but we’re so glad… Our house is so far, up against the ridge, and from the ridge I still had to walk. And there, golly, was a big dam. But when I got to the dam, I already started feeling scared. I started feeling scared, and being scared, I – and the path led through the kraalbossies [“kraal bushes”/Galenia africana], along which I had to go home. I became scared of… of, what could it be? And when I got to the stoep, we had such a big, high stoep, when I went towards the stoep so that I could get onto the stoep, a big black thing came running. So that I had to get out of the way. Golly, then I moved! And my grandma couldn’t open the door quickly enough. I screamed, “Open the door!”

Grandma asks, “What is it now?”

I say, “There’s a big black thing running around here.”

She says, “Well then, you can’t settle down on Sunday evenings, can you? That’s what happens to you when you can’t settle down.”

Have you ever heard of Jantjie’s Ram?

Yes, I heard people speaking of it.

What is it?

It’s as big as a dog. My late husband met it one night. He was still thinking, there was a woman who lived here that they said – it was, as a matter of fact, that sister who looked after Mr (inaudible 10:54) – her ma, she had such a big black dog. Now, my husband was also here that night and then he went home on the, on his way back home, he said, they met a big black dog and the name of the grandma’s dog was Alsoe [?? 11:11]. He was still calling, “Alsoe, Alsoe,” and when Alsoe looked at him, Alsoe had these big red eyes. Then he saw that it wasn’t Alsoe. It had to have been the Ram, because it wasn’t Alsoe.

Then I said, “Yes, I learnt from walking around late on Sunday evenings, that is the time that the things are out. That’s when they appear.”

So I’m a bit wary of walking around late on Sunday evenings (inaudible 11:48) on the road.

Have you ever heard of the dassie* adder?

Mhm. I haven’t seen it myself, but they say it rolls, don’t they? It rolls. And it has these strings, these strings with which it – when it maybe finds you, next to the road, then it has these strings that it uses to catch you. The strings hold you until it can get to you. Then it licks you and then it swallows you. I don’t know whether it’s true, but I heard it told as the truth. It rolls and it has a lot of little feet. One year I was walking one day – it was still in my childhood – I walked over there that day, to the other grandma who lived up here. Then I saw this drag mark, but it had a lot of tracks that it – it was nearly like, ahh, a tractor wheel, the drag mark was that wide. With the many small tracks. Then I told my grandma and my grandma said, “My child, it is the dassie adder that was walking around hereabouts. It was probably looking for something. But you immediately have to (inaudible 13:18) it, to get back. To the house. Where was it going?”

So I said, “It went towards the orange trees.”

Then she told me I would have to, because I hurried up that we could marry (trou ?? 13:34). I didn’t want to be caught, with its strings. So I went back. What happened to it, I don’t know, whether it went back, or where it went. But they said people here had the dassie adder, and it ate dassies, it ate any old thing. Those were the stories in those years. That my ouma and them always told.

Getruida Fransman staan bekend as Antie Trooi. Sy is op die plaas Onder-Swartvlei gebore en was 74 jaar oud ten tyde van die onderhoud.

Gertruida is een van nege kinders. Sy vertel van haar grootwordjare op die plaas en hoe sy van jongs af die boer se kinders opgepas het. Sy vertel hoe hulle in die rivier geswem het, en van die waterbaas en Jantjie se ram.

Getruida Fransman staan bekend as Antie Trooi. Sy is gebore op die plaas Onder-Swartvlei en was ten tyde van die onderhoud 74 jaar oud. Sy het nie skoolgegaan nie en het van jongs af die boere se kinders opgepas. Haar ouers is op Onder-Swartvlei gebore en haar ma is daar dood. Haar man het op Bo-Swartvlei gebly en sy het soontoe getrek toe hulle getroud is. Op die plaas waar sy grootgeword het, het hulle koring geplant wat met ’n dorsmasjien gedors is. Sy moes elke middag vir haar pa kos vat terwyl hy besig was om te dors. Hulle moes water by die rivier gaan haal en het roosterbrood gemaak. Sy is een van nege kinders. Hulle het altyd kaalvoet geloop want haar ouers kon nie bekostig om vir hulle skoene te koop nie. Op koue oggende wanneer alles wit gedou was, het hulle hulle voete by die vuur warm gemaak. Hulle was bly wanneer die son uitkom en die dag warmer word.

Sondagmiddae het hulle rivier toe gegaan, maar sy het nooit leer swem nie, want die ouer seuns het die jonger kinders se koppe onder die water ingedruk en sy het niks daarvan gehou nie. Sy het op die rivierwal gesit en weggehardloop as die ouer seuns naderkom. Die waterbaas lyk soos ’n mens, maar sy onderlyf is soos dié van ’n vis. Daar is ook ’n slang wat in die rivier bly. Hy trek jou in sy gat onder die water in. Onder die water is hy die koning, en hy wil hê jy moet hom leer liefkry. Die waterbaas vang jou sodat die slang jou kan kry. Gedurende die dag kan jy kom en gaan, maar snags moet jy terugkeer na jou nuwe tuiste daar by die slang. Mense het al in die rivier weggeraak, maar hulle het weer uitgespoel. Mense het gesê dis die waterbaas wat hulle gevat het.

Gertruida vertel van Jantjie se ram en sê hy is so groot soos ’n hond. Haar man het eenkeer ’n ou tante se hond geroep. Toe die hond omdraai, het die hond sulke groot rooi oë. Hy’t gesê dit was nie die tante se hond nie, maar Jantjie se ram. Sy sê hierdie soort dinge gebeur op Sondagaande, so sy is maar versigtig op ’n Sondagaand. Sy vertel van ’n gedierte met so ’n klomp voetjies, wat rol. Hy vang jou met sy drade, lek jou en sluk jou in. Gertruida het dit vir die waarheid gehoor. Sy het eenkeer ’n sleepsel met ’n vreeslike klomp spore gesien en haar ouma het gesê dis die dassie-adder wat daar rondgeloop het.


My naam is Gertruida Fransman, maar hulle noem my Antie Troi, my kleinnaam, Antie Troi. En ek is vier-en-sewentig jaar oud. Ek is gebore op die plaas Onder-Swartvlei. Ek het nie skool gehad nie, ek, voordat ek moet skool toe gaan, toe moet ek maar beginne gaan werk, onder die boere beginne kinders oppas, en so. So’t ek maar beginne leer werk. Eers by kinders, en my ma en my pa is van Onder-Swartvlei. My ma is op Onder-Swartvlei gebore en sy het daar gesterwe, verlede maand, op Onder-Swartvlei. En my pa is ook al ’n paar jaar oorlede. En, daar het ek ook maar grootgeraak, as kind. Daarvan af is ek nou, toe ek nou groot is, het ek nou man ge-ontmoet, en toe, my man is van dié plaas, Bo-Swartvlei, en toe het ons maar van Onder-Swartvlei, het ek maar verhuis Bo-Swartvlei toe, waar ek vandag nog bly. Op die plaas.

Hoe was Antie se kinderjare?

Ja, my kinderjare het ek daai tye maar so ge-, gewerk en maar so gesien lat die mense, destye het hulle mos gerwe gesny, met die sekel, dorsmasjiene, hulle het nie stropers gehad daai tye soos nou nie, maar hulle met die dorsmasjiene het hulle gedors. Die angel uitgedors, uit die, uit die, dinges, uit die gerwe uit. En dan van daai gerwe het hulle meel gemaak en dan moet ons as kinders moet agtermiddae, middae moet ons gaan kos wegbring vir Pa na die dorsmasjien toe. Agtermiddae moet ons vir hulle gaan koffie wegbring, in daai jare, onse kinderjare. En ons het moet hout in die berg loop haal, en ons het moet, water aandra. Is nie soos vandag se tyd nie. Dat ons nou water in die huise het nie. Ons moes dit aangedra het met die emmers, uit die sloot, uit die vore uit, huis toe. Hout moes ons in die berg loop haal het. Om vuur te maak. Brood het ons op die vuur gebak, in die platpotte. En roosterbrode gebraai. Op die rooster. So het ons in ons kinderjare grootgeraak. Dit was nie die tyd soos nou nie. Wat alles gerieflik is nie. Daai tye het ons maar, ons moes kaalvoet loop, want daar was nie geld dat Pa en Ma kan vir ons skoene koop nie, want ons het, my ma was, het nege kinders gehad en sy kan nie vir al nege ge-onderhou het met daai bietjie geld wat hulle destyds verdien het nie. Destydse mense het mos nie baie verdien nie. Pa en Ma het nog nie baie verdien nie. Geld verdien nie. Ons moet maar so kaalvoetjies loop. Maar vure maak soggens lat ons voetjies maar by die vuur warm maak, en ons is bly as die son uitkom, dan is dit dan mos nou weer warm. Die dou lê soggens spierwit, maar dan moet ons maar die dou droog trap, daar’s nie ’n genade nie, daar’s nie anderse kans nie, ons moet dit alleen doen. Want ons moet loop waar Ma en Pa is, ons kan nie sê nee nie. Ek kan nie by daai antie bietjie suiker gaan vra nie, of ek kan nie by daai antie bietjie koffie loop haal nie, ek moet loop. Destye.

Antie, het hulle vir Antie-hulle stories vertel, miskien die ouer mense, as Antie-hulle gaan swem het by die rivier. Is daar miskien stories, rivierstories?

Ja. Ek het altyd, ons het altyd Sondae, na die middag gaan ons rivier toe, maar ek het nooit geleer swem nie, want die ding is dat daar so, die ouer seunskinders druk ons koppe onder die water, en daarvan het ek nooit gehou nie. Ek gaan net tot op die rivier se rand, hier kom hulle mos nou aangeswem en my kom haal, dan hol ek weg. Want ek wil nie, ek wil nie my kop onder die water hê nie, maar baie kinders het dit geniet. Dié kop onder water druk. Maar ek het net niks daarvan gehou nie. Ek het altyd weggehol.

Is daar miskien stories wat hulle vertel het van mense wat daar in die rivier bly?

Ja, hulle het altyd gesê, die waterbaas. Maar ek was so bang vir dié waterbaas.

Hoe’t hulle gesê hoe lyk die waterbaas?

Hulle sê hy’s bo is hy mens, onder is hy vis. En dan’s daar nou ’n slang, enne, dié slang lek nou vir jou lat jy moet lateraan vir hulle gewoond raak as hulle nou vir jou ingetrek het, jy’s nou in dié gaat, waar hulle nou woon. Daar lek die slang nou vir jou lat jy nou vir hulle ook lief raak. Die slang is nou glo die koning onder die water. Die waterbaas is nou maar net daar om vir jou in te trek, maar hulle sê daar is dit soos dit hier is, onder die, onder die water. Is dit net soos dit hier is, jy kan uitgaan, nou weer, en vanaand moet jy weer inkom. Môre gaan jy weer uit werk toe, vanaand kom jy weer in.

Het daar mense so weggeraak hierso?

Hier het al mense weggeraak, maar ek weet nou nie of die storie ’n waar storie is nie, of hoe nie, maar hier het al mense verdrink in die riviere, maar hulle het weer uitgespoel na, na, uhh…

Het mense toe gesê dis die waterslang?

Ja. Hulle sê dis die waterbaas wat so …. mens vat.

Het Antie al gehoor van Dirk Ligter?


Weet Antie miskien van Boesmantekeninge wat hier naby rond is?

Nee. Dit het ek nog nie gesien nie. Ons het baie in die bergvelde geloop, ons het baie daai jare geloop besemgoed haal. Ver, dou, agter in die berge, loop haal ons besemgoed.

Het Antie miskien jagstories of spookstories wat Antie se ma-hulle vir Antie vertel het?

Nee. Maar ek het nou nie spookstories wat hulle vir my vertel het nie, maar wat ek nou, toe ons nog kinders gewees het, ge-ervaar het. Hulle het mos altyd gesê dit spook so. En toe wil ek nooit geglo het van die spookstorie nie, en een aand, by sononder, die vrou bly, my niggie, sy bly ook daar Onder-Swartvlei. Nou toe kom ons in die aand, toe kom bring die oom, Oupa Apollis, wat vandag oorlede is, maar hy kom bring toe vir ons weg. Nou toe ons so na die boom toe kom, toe val daar nou ’n droë beesvel uit die boom uit. En dié vel (onhoorbaar 07:51). Toe glo ook, toe glo ek daai aand, daar kan spoke wees, want hoekom sal die vel dan uit die boom uit val. So is daar dan seker spoke, want ’n droë beesvel is mos nie so hol [?? 08:06] nie? Toe’t ons nou daai aand daar omgespring en weer teruggehol, want Sondae-aande moet ons nog loop dans en loop speel, dan gaan ons nie huis toe nie, van die werk af nie. Ek het nog altyd Sondae-aande, moet ek nog altyd ingegaan het, plaas toe. Dan moet ek nou loop eiers uithaal, en koffie maak en die bottel vol koffie gooi vir die, die nooi en die baas. Vir soggens. Nou dan moet ek Sondae-aande dan loop doen, dan haal ek nou die eiers uit. Dan gaan ek nie daarvan huis toe nie, nee, daarvan af moet ons nog eers nog loop speel. En ons loop dans nog, al die goeters. Doen ons nog. En toe ons nou terugkom, toe kom ons dié ding oor. Van dié. En een aand toe, daarna, ons hoor nog nie. Daarna gaan ons, weer, op ’n Sondagaand, nee, gaan ons weer van die jaart af weg. Af. En kom die aand, terug, maar nou so bly, as ons huis nou so ver, so teen die rantjie, en hier van die rantjie af so moet ek nog oploop. En hier, joe, is nou ’n groot dam. Maar toe ek nou hier by die dam kom, toe begin raak ek al bang. Begin raak ek nou al bang, wat ek so bang-bang, en nou soos lê die paadjie nou so deur die kraalbossies op, wat ek nou moet huis toe gaan. Raak ek nou bang vir die … wat sal daar van wees? En toe ek na die stoep toe gaan, ons het so ’n groot, hoë stoep gehad, toe ek nou so na die stoep toe gaan dat ek nou sal op die stoep sal kom, hier kom net so ’n groot swart ding aangehol. Lat ek moet agteruit staan. Maar kyk, toe maak ek darem gou. En my ouma kan nie gou genoeg die deur oopmaak nie, ek gil: “Maak oop die deur!”

Ouma vra: “Wat is dit nou?”

Ek sê: “Hier hol dan nou ’n groot swart ding.”

Sy sê: “Nou ja, julle kan mos nie Sondae-aande tot rus kom nie, julle sal dit oorkom, want julle kan mos nie rus nie.”

Het Antie al gehoor van Jantjie se Ram?

Ja, ek het gehoor die mense praat so van hom.

Wat is dit?

Hy’s ook so groot soos ’n hond. My oorlede man het hom een aand gekry. Maar hy’t nog gedink, hier het ’n vrou gebly wat hulle gesê het, dis hoeka dié, suster wat nou vir Meneer (onhoorbaar 10:54) opgepas het, haar ma, het mos so ’n groot swart hond gehad. Nou toe’t my man ook die aand hier gewees en toe gaan hy nou terug op die, wat hy nou terugkom, huis toe, sê hy, kry hulle ’n groot swart hond en die ouma se hond se naam was Alsoe [?? 11:11]. Hy roep nog “Alsoe, Alsoe” en toe Alsoe nou vir hom kyk, toe’t Alsoe net sulke groot rooi oë. Toe sien hy maar dit is nooit Alsoe nie, dit moet die Ram wees, want Alsoe is dit nie.

Toe sê ek: “Ja, ek het geleer van Sondae-aande nog laat rondloop, dan’s dit daai tyd wat die goeters loop.” Daai tyd. Loop hulle.

So ek is maar versigtig vir Sondae-aande laat op ’n pad wees (onhoorbaar 11:48) op die pad.

Het Antie al gehoor dat die mense praat van die dassie-adder?

Mhhh. Maar nou nie self gesien nie, maar hulle sê mos hy rol. Hy rol. En hy’t sulke drade, sulke drade wat hy met nou, as hy nou miskien vir jou kry, teen die pad, dan’t hy sulke drade wat hy vir jou vastrek. So houvas die drade nou vir jou totlat hy nou by jou kom. Dan lek hy vir jou nat en dan sluk hy vir jou in. Ek weet nie of dit waar is nie, maar ek het dit gehoor vir die waarheid. Hy rol en hy’t sulke klomp voetjies. Een jaar toe loop ek die dag … is nog in die kinderjare, dan loop ek die dag syntoe, om na die ander ouma toe wat daar aan die bokant bly. Toe kry ek ook so ’n sleepsel, maar hy’t vreeslike klomp spore wat hy, hy is amper soos, ahh, ahh, ’n tractorwiel so, so breed is die sleepsel. Met die klomp spoortjies. Toe vertel ek nou vir my ouma, toe sê my ouma: “My kind, dan’s dit die dassie-adder wat hier rondgeloop het. Dan’t hy seker iets geloop soek. Maar jy sal hom moet dadelik (onhoorbaar 13:18) maak, dat jy weer terugkom. Onder by die huis. Want waffer kant toe is hy?”

Toe sê ek: “Hy’s na die lemoenbome se kant toe.”

Sy sê nou vir my, dan sal ek moet maak, want ek het net gou gemaak daar dat ons weer trou (?? 13:34). Ek moet tog nie nou vasgepen wees nie, die drade wat hy het nie. Toe’s ek maar weer terug. Wat van hom toe geword het, weet ek nie, of hy toe weer terug is nie, of waarheen hy is nie. Maar hulle sê hier het mense die dassie-adder, en hy eet dassies, al wat voorkom, eet hy. Daai jare was dit die stories. My ouma-hulle altyd vertel het.