Beloved Rondebosch flower seller Naomi Ward dies of Covid-19
Cape Town – Beloved Rondebosch flower seller Naomi Ward has died of Covid-19 at the age of 85.
Ward, who was one of the oldest flower sellers in Rondebosch, lived in Parkwood Estate and woke up at 5am every day to take a taxi to the Fountain Centre, withstanding all types of weather, to sell bunches of fresh flowers for the past 55 years.
She started the business with her late mother in 1944 when she was just nine years old, in District Six.
Her niece, Nolene Fortune, said that Ward had contracted Covid-19 two weeks ago and was admitted to Brackengate Hospital, where she died on Sunday.
“Not being able to physically see her (at the facility) and care for her was draining but we video-called her every chance we got,” Fortune said.
“Her death will have a big impact on the community of Rondebosch, especially the little girls who adored her and would bring her gifts all the time. Her love for children went beyond those in the family. It was amazing to watch how she was with everyone.”
Ward’s other niece, Sulaila Hendricks, said the loss was a devastating blow to the family as she was their strength.
“I have been selling flowers with her for the past 20 years, and her strength and passion for flowers and love for people is what drew me in.
“She was kind-hearted, an inspiring and positive role model to the young children and people living on the streets, and always lent an ear. The school kids who walked by would be so happy to see her there and would always say that when she was no longer there Rondebosch would never be the same,” Hendricks said.
She added that Ward was a mother figure to all in the family, not just Ward’s own son, Lesley Joseph, aged 65.
“Her death has left a void in our hearts and home. We will always love her and continue with the legacy she left behind.
’’She showed strength and courage till her last days, from leaving school to work when she was nine years old to care for her siblings, to caring for her 14 nieces and nephews, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
“She truly was a rare gem who did what she loved till death. We are forever grateful for the time we spent with her,” said Hendricks.
Those who want to honour Ward are invited to place flowers where she worked at the Rondebosch Fountain Centre from noon next Monday.