Annali Honiball’s incredible journey
Annali Honiball is well known in Winterton as a mover and shaker. The Church@Work movement that keeps Winterton clean and neat was her brainchild, and while her work at the local municipality keeps her too busy to be directly involved in the movement, she is always there to give ideas or help if they need her. She is connected to the farming community and her family’s entrepreneurial flair has ensured that it would be hard to forget the Honiballs.
It is difficult to imagine that there could be more to this remarkable woman, but there certainly is a side of her that not everyone knows. Her journey began when she met her husband Danie at Tukkies in Pretoria. “I was studying Anthropology, which is basically the study of humans, human behaviour and societies in the past and present. I’ve always had an unquenchable thirst for history. Writing and languages is also a passion of mine. Danie, on the other hand, was studying BSc Agriculture. We met through mutual friends and we just got along so well. Our friendship quickly turned into a deep love and respect for each other.
We got married in our final year at varsity. Our parents weren’t too happy, since we were still studying, but we made a promise that we would not lose track of our studies… and we kept to that promise.”
The young married couple was to face a time of forced separation due to conscription. “Danie went to the military, where he was first at Kroonstad and then Kimberley. I joined military intelligence in Pretoria and ended up working for the head of military intelligence.” Danie was transferred to Natal, where he grew up, while his wife was still in Pretoria. “I went to my superior and told him that I planned to resign to join my husband in Natal. Before I knew it, Danie was sent to work with me in Pretoria.” The couple worked in the same building, just on different floors. They were both involved in the Church Street bombing in 1983. Annali was planning to run across the road to go to the bank that Thursday afternoon, but just before she left, a request came in for classified documents. “I was so annoyed, as it takes an eternity to retrieve those documents. Little did I know that it actually saved my life. The Church Street bomb went off, killing 19 and wounding 217. I would certainly have been caught in the bombing if it wasn’t for the document request. We lost some co-workers, while others were injured. It was a scary time.”
When Danie had served his time in the military, the two moved back to his family farm in Winterton. “It was always the plan; we just waited for his time in the military to pass.”
Danie was a keen pilot since childhood. “Danie and his father did a lot of aerial spraying. He was seventeen when he got his pilot’s licence.”
But that is not where Danie’s talents ended; he was also an inventive entrepreneur. “In 94, he decided to try grow roses. It went so well that we started exporting the roses. This gave us the opportunity to travel and visit many countries around the world. We got the chance to visit Holland, where we took part in the Aalsmeer flower show. We spent some time there with our flowers and afterwards we went sightseeing. Some of the places our flowers took us to were Israel, England, Switzerland, Germany, Portugal and Italy.”
Since Danie was so passionate about the roses, he came up with an irrigation system that uses an organic component that acts like rain water. “He also exported this product and spent a lot of time travelling to show people how it works.”
Export taxes became far too expensive and the Honiballs decided to give up their rose farm and focus on maize and soya once again. But alas, it was already time for their next adventure to begin. “For our 25th wedding anniversary, Danie took me to Hartbeespoort Dam, where we had a hot air balloon ride. That day, he decided he wanted to fly hot air balloons himself. Since he was already a pilot, it didn’t take him long to get his ballooning licence. He went into business with Dave McGregor and they opened Drakensberg Ballooning.”
The Honiballs have had their fair share of pain as well. One of their two sons was diagnosed with acute kidney failure. Annali, like any mother would, offered her kidney. And while she was a match, the medical aid would only pay for the child’s surgery and not hers. “The community of Winterton pulled together and just as we needed to go for the procedure, all the money we needed was collected. We will never forget all the goodwill and love afterwards”.
Two years ago, Danie passed away. “It all happened so suddenly. He was in Zambia when he suffered an aneurysm. Danie held on as they raced him to Johannesburg, where we waited to see him. The doctors say it is a miracle that he managed to hold on for so long, but I knew Danie wasn’t going anywhere before saying goodbye to us first. It was a terrible time for us and while they say time heals all wounds, the wound his passing left in my heart will never heal.”
Annali has her two sons, Daniël, who is the farmer and pilot in the family, and Emile, who is the manager of finances and CEO of their farm and guesthouse, with her. The Honiball family gained a new member when Emile married Lanthë, who is the events planner and manager of their venue, “The Barn’.
Annali is very excited about the Church@Work movement as it turns 15 this year. “I went to our church in 2003 and asked if we couldn’t somehow employ someone to help clean up the town, as it looked despicable. The church agreed and we ended up with three full-time employees. With their help and the help of the community(especially Johnny and Annelize Moore), we keep the grass short, the entrances clean and neat, we fill potholes, plant flowers and we come up with creative ideas to give our town character. We also try to beautify Khetani Township with a “plant depot” (where people leave unwanted plants and the community takes them), and gardening competitions. In 2013, we were the winner in Natal with Kwêla Dorp van die Jaar. Just goes to show that hard work and dedication pays off! Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe it has been 15 years and we only survive on donations. We have our Straatfees in November every year and the proceeds are ploughed back into the town as well. We are truly blessed to have such an amazing community in Winterton.”
Get It Northern KZN & Midlands October 2018