Grabouw fruit packer and storage facility, Two-a-Day, has won the Grabouw Jerusalema challenge with 563 votes, a lead of 372 votes compared to the nearest competitor, A&B Williams. Remhoogte came third while Kromco came forth. The Facebook challenge that has taken social-media by storm is to film a group dancing to the hit song Jerusalema by South African musician Master KG, featuring the voice of South African songstress Nomcebo.
“It is a worldwide happening and here it stems out of the fact that we are now on the winning side after all the pain and frustration caused by Covid-19,” says Sister Cheryl Bozman who manages the company’s clinic and wellness programme.
“It has been very tense and we have had to make a lot of adjustments that we never thought we’d need to make – no one had even heard of the term social distancing. We have had to learn a new way of living and greeting and it has not been easy. Everything has changed for everyone,” she says.
Ms Bozman says that although they only had about 24 positive cases and one Covid-related death, given their vast workforce of 1800 people things may have been much worse.
“We all had to buy in to make things work, emotionally it has been very draining,” she says.
Dimitri Jacobs, human resources director at Two-a-Day says having a low number of positive cases at Two-a-Day is a pretty good result considering the fact that Grabouw, situated in the Overberg, was declared a Covid-19 hot-spot area.
“Despite the initial fears at the start of the pandemic, our employees came together and took the company’s hands in an effort to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our premises. This pandemic is, unfortunately, not over and we will continue to implement very strict Covid-19 rules for the foreseeable future,” Mr Jacobs says.
According to Ms Bozman, people at Two-a-Day are very competitive and that each August the Tru-Cape Packhouse Challenge is held when packhouses throughout the Western Cape compete for the coveted Tru-Cape Packhouse Challenge trophy. Two-a-Day has won the Packhouse Challenge for a number of years but, in the last few, Fruitways and Kromco, also fruit packers in the Grabouw area, have been actively challenging their position.
“When Two-a-Day heard that Kromco had entered the Jerusalema Challenge the factory teams decided Two-a-Day would compete too,” she says adding, “We are over the worst of it but we still have to be very cautious to avoid a second Covid-19 wave as has happened abroad.”
Lucinda Bantam, Valda Mentoor, Michelle Hartebees, Louise Willschutte in Packhouse 1 lead the challenge and got support from the IT department’s Chris Jooste and Stian Bruwer to film things with the company’s drone and Vionne Jooste and Tarroll van Rooyen provided the music. The editing of the video was by Chris Petzer.
Because of the volume of apples and pears packed through Two-a-Day and sold by Tru-Cape, fruit is packed 24-hours a day. “The nightshift also wanted to participate in the Jerusalema Challenge and demonstrate their dance moves so the night-shift group will have a dance off against the day-shift group on Friday September 18 at 1pm. Charne Pretorius is one of the organisers and Jan van Niekerk, who, although on day shift, is helping the night-shift with their moves”, Ms Bozman says.
Ms Bozman says that what was left out of the video is footage of the prayer group offering gratitude for surviving the pandemic thus far and another group, Two-a-Day’s dedicated Covid-19 task team, with red balloons that were released into the sky to represent the blood of those who were sickened or died. “
“Now there is laughter and people are smiling again,” says Ms Bozman, “along with feelings of ‘I want to come to work again because we are part of something that recognises the difficulty but also our strong spirit’.”
Attie van Zyl, Two-a-Day Group managing director says that it is heartening that the workforce has adopted this positive, active step to acknowledge our shared experience.
“We don’t yet know what our world will look like once Covid-19 is over but the fact that we can still take time and energy and come together to dance and participate as we have done makes me hopeful for the future,” Mr Van Zyl says.