Horse-riding community supports beloved ‘groom’ turned coach after freak accident

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Bafana Ndhlovu (43), better known as the ‘child whisperer’ has worked with horses for the last 36 years. After a freak accident that destroyed his vehicle, the horse-riding community has come together to help him get back on his feet.

Born to the stables

Bafana’s love for horses started at the age of 7, cleaning the stables with his 11-year-old brother when his father worked for a racehorse trainer in Johannesburg.

Later in life, Bafana was invited to work with his childhood friend, Belinda Martin when she opened Penbritte Equestrian in Alewynspoort Valley across the road from where his father used to work.

 “Bafana was always different from the other children, even at 10 years old, he would rather be around animals, especially horses, than play with other children. He soon started riding my pony and eventually my horses and we became close friends” – says Belinda

At Penbritte, Bafana started working as a casual worker, he soon progressed to a horse riding groom and then assistant manager. As his curiosity grew, he represented South Africa as a showjumper at the Inter Africa Cup in Swaziland. His brother also become a jockey before his tragic passing in 2019.

Bafana making the jump

Finally, with his equestrian teaching qualifications under his saddle, Bafana became a manager at  Penbritte, fulfilling his role as a beloved horse riding coach for beginners, where he is affectionately known as the ‘child whisperer’ for his natural affinity for children.

Bafana with a few of his horse-riding students at Penbritte

“I feel like I was born at the stables. This job is my life and the horses are my career. I know everything there is to know about horses and I can’t survive without them.  I am also blessed to be working with kids. I am very good at my job and it is something that I enjoy. Kids keep me busy, and I love all my kids, and they all love me.” – says Bafana 

An unexpected accident 

While returning home, after a long day of work on the 5th of August 2020, Bafana was involved in a freak accident when a waterbuck ran across the road and hit his vehicle. Thankfully, Bafana was traveling slowly and escaped with minor injuries, unfortunately, his vehicle which he purchased after saving for 9 years was destroyed.

Bafana’s vehicle after the accident

Since the accident, Bafana has had to walk 20 km to and from work, on the days he can’t get a lift. 

Understanding that Bafana will have difficulty purchasing a new vehicle as he is the sole breadwinner for his mother, 5 sons, as well as his extended family, Belinda has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to help Bafana get back on his feet.

“Knowing that Bafana has to walk so far to work every day is heartbreaking. He is such a hard worker and has achieved so much and never complains. He always arrives with a smile, though out of breath, to care for the horses and coach and encourage the children who look up to him. So many people depend on him, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be” – says Belinda

Bafana and Belinda

The campaign to purchase a vehicle for Bafana went live on 24 August 2020 and has thus far raised a total of R16 435.74 towards the fundraising target of R30 000 with contributions from 30 donors.

“I am so thankful to everyone who has donated to my BackaBuddy campaign. My car was my life, it always got me to work, and that is the place I love to be. Having my own transport will let me get to work and to provide for my family” – says Bafana

To support Bafana in purchasing a new vehicle, make a donation on BackaBuddy here:

One of Bafana’s students, Emma Tandy, eagerly put together a message of support for her superstar coach.

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