It was indeed a very special day for one of Laudium’s pioneers, whose milestone 90th birthday was celebrated with deserved pomp and style.

Uncle Balakristna Chetty, more fondly known as ‘Speedy’ was born on February 2, 1933 in Witbank and his birthday was celebrated at ‘A River Runs Through It’, near Laudium, on Saturday (February 11). In attendance were family members and friends, including his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. At the birthday function, an emotional Uncle Speedy expressed his thanks and appreciation to his family for hosting such a beautiful function in his honour. He said that he was most grateful to the Almighty for granting him the strength and health to reach this milestone and to his family for always taking such good care of him, adding that he looks forward to every new day that the Almighty grants him.

The Laudium Sun joins our readers in praying that Uncle Balakristna is blessed with good health, strength and continued vitality. “Know that you are a valued member of our community and that we are honoured to celebrate this milestone with you.”

Many happy returns Uncle Balakristna Chetty

Uncle Balakristna (Speedy) Chetty in his younger days.

A special birthday celebration was held to celebrate the 90th birthday of Uncle Balakristna Chetty by his loving family at ‘A River Runs Through It’, on Saturday, February 11. What an incredible milestone!

Balakristna Chetty 1933 in Witbank and schooled at Witbank Indian and Coloured school. He lived in Clewer on a farm with his grandfather and grandmother. After leaving school at an early age he worked as a page boy (delivering luggage) for guests at Athlone Hotel in Witbank town. He left Witbank and worked at Polis (spelling not sure) Hotel as an apprentice waiter in Pretoria. Later he moved to Malvern Hotel in Johannesburg and worked as a wine steward. The wages those days were around 15 to 20 pounds per month. He played soccer for various teams including Witbank Rangers and Stella’s FC, while working at the Polis Hotel in Pretoria. This is where he gained the name “Speedy,” as he was one of the fastest players on the field.

In 1952 he moved to Benoni and travelled to Malvern. He joined an Indian music band the Sidambaram Orchestra based in Benoni as a guitar player. In 1954 he moved to Lady Selborne where he was born on February 2, met Amerdo Pillay and they were married the same year. Due to the long distances he had to travel from Lady Selborne to Malvern daily and the long hours of work, he left his work and began his taxi business driving from Laudium to town. Those days only cars with 5 passengers were allowed, unlike today with 10-25 seater kombi’s.

In 1961 he and his family moved to Laudium due to the group areas act and lived in a small house owned by former White residents, in the now 11th Avenue, together with the entire Pillay family. When the first council houses were built for Indians on 1st Street now (Garnet Street), Laudium they moved to one of those houses. Later, he purchased his first house on Emerald Street, which was rented for R13 per month initially. The council houses, were really small and in the 2 bedroom house he lived with his mother, wife, 2 daughters and 4 sons.

In 1991 he tragically lost his son Sathia in a motor car accident and in the same year his wife succumbed to cancer. His mother, unable to cope with all the deaths in the home, sadly passed away in 1993.

He is the only surviving person amongst his siblings and grateful to have celebrated his 90th birthday with his 5 children, their 6 daughters-in-law, 14 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and all his extended family members and friends.

At the birthday celebration speeches were delivered by his son Daya Chetty, son-in-law Dr Murthi Sooboo, grand children Kaminthia Pregalathan, Theshni Balrishi and Kailash Chetty and brother-in-law Comeras Pillay.

Mr B. Chetty expressed his thanks and appreciation to his family for hosting such a beautiful function to honour him. He said that he was grateful to the Almighty for granting him the strength and health to reach this milestone and to his family for always taking such good care of him. Adding that he looks forward to every new day the Almighty grants him.
-Submitted

Scenes from the 90th birthday celebration in honour of Uncle Balakristna Chetty (Speedy), held at ‘A River Runs Through It,’ held earlier this month.