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(3 July 2009) It was one of the biggest line-ups of celebrities in the history of South African internet. During the last week of June, thirty-nine public figures auctioned off their time on bidorbuy.co.za, raising more than R56,000 for several charities.
The celebrity line-up included personalities from various fields. There were actors, comedians, DJs, singers, presenters, politicians, economists, environmentalists, one Paralympics sportsman, one former Big Brother reality show winner, and real-life hostage saga survivors.
The auction for a lunch with the Nobel Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu went for the highest amount, R11,500. Singer and heart-throb Steve Hofmeyr’s auction for backstage VIP passes and dinner with him and his cast attracted a lot of attention, as did the radio and TV presenter Elana Afrika’s meet-and-greet auction and the unique double-take auction, with Pieter Dirk Uys auctioning off both himself and his alter-ego, Evita. The offer by well-known artist Cornelius Bosch to personally cook a lunch for the highest bidder and nine friends was eagerly snapped up. Other “prizes” included an entrepreneur workshop with Alan Knott-Craig Jnr, a guided tour of Makweti Safari Lodge with Sibusiso Vilane, being present at a Freshly Ground rehearsal and lunching with the lead singer Zolani, and the list goes on.
A mini survey of the winners of the auctions revealed that most bidders were equally attracted by the “prize” – spending time with the celebrity – as they were by the fact that their money will go to a worthy cause.
“I try to give as much (to charities) as I can”, says Kathryn Schenk. She bid for and won a tour of Delta Park with Geoff Lockwood. “It’s not something I would normally do. I expect to just to have a good time and learn a thing or two”, says Kathryn, an American who moved to South Africa seven years ago.
Sally (last name withheld) is also an American. She visits South Africa with family for a couple of months every year. Sally is thrilled with her two “consolation prizes”, Pieter Dirk Uys and Sibusiso Vilane. She originally had her eyes set on Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but had to forego that auction because of the incompatibility of dates. “Pieter Dirk Uys is a person we admire; besides, he is funny”, says Sally. “The Makweti experience interested us because of Sibusiso Vilane. We never heard of Sibusiso previously, but we knew that, if we won, we would learn a lot from him, and not only about the "Big Five."
Gary van der Walt says he is a big fan of Casper de Vries and that was the main reason he entered the bidding war – and won it. He also adds: “I try to donate as much as I can, especially when there’s kids involved.” Steve Mars, who looks forward to treating his “gorgeous Greek wife” to a lunch with Leanne Manas, says he donates to charities though his Church and the Compassion organization. Gregg Goosen likes to donate to a charitable cause once a year and is very happy to combine the giving with meeting one of his favourite TV personalities, Michelle Garforth. Clement le Court de Billot makes a monthly contribution to SPCA and welcomes the opportunity to “get to know Nicole Fox on a different level”.
The bidder who won the Archbishop Desmond Tutu auction prefers not to have his name made known. He says he selected this particular auction because it had the highest public profile and he looks forward to discussing charity issues with the Archbishop.
The charities who benefited from the June 2009 celebrity auctions are IkamvaYouth, which provides disadvantaged secondary school learners with skills; Matla a Bana, which fights child abuse; South African Anxiety and Depression Group, mental health support and advocacy group; Endangered Wildlife Trust, which endeavours to conserve threatened species and ecosystems in Southern Africa; several charities associated with The Trust, an organisation which provides a network for various South African charities, including Childline Gauteng, Sunshine Association, Topsy Foundation, UNICEF South Africa and Delta Environmental Centre. “Not only did this series of online auctions help us raise much needed funds, but it also helped us to profile our charity”, says Ingrid Botha from Matla a Bana.
bidorbuy managing director Andy Higgins says that bidorbuy plans to make the celebrities for charities auctions an annual event. The aim is to make it both easy and fun to give money to charities – for, as one of the June 09 charity auction winners remarked, “it is difficult in South Africa to get people to contribute to charities outside of their churches and school programmes”.
See the complete list of celebrities who generously donated their time in the June 2009 auctions.