A man who was believed to be the oldest man in the world has died at the age of 116.
Mr Fredie Blom’s official identity documents showed he was born in Eastern Cape province in May 1904, although that was never verified by Guinness World Records.
When he was a teenager, his entire family was wiped out by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. He went on to survive two world wars and apartheid.
In an interview with the BBC in 2018, Mr Blom was not eager to share his secret for longevity. He simply retorted..
Mr Blom spent most of his life as a labourer – first on a farm and then in the construction industry – and only retired when he was in his 80s.
Although he gave up drinking many years ago, he was a regular smoker.
However, a coronavirus-related lockdown imposed by the South African government reportedly meant Mr Blom could not access his normal dosage of tobacco although it is not confirmed that this may have contributed to his demise and death.
Mr Blom’s family said he died of natural causes in Cape Town on Saturday.
“Two weeks ago oupa [grandfather] was still chopping wood,” family spokesman Andre Naidoo explained “He was a strong man, full of pride.”
But within days Mr Blom shrank “from a big man to a small person”, he added.
Mr Naidoo said the family did not believe his death was related to Covid-19.
By Eric Knight