Mr Andries Tjaart van der Walt became a member of Bellville’s city council in 1972. Two years later, in 1974, he was chosen to represent Bellville in the provincial council and in 1976 as MP. He retired from the politics in 1989. During this time he was nominated as MP, rejected an appointment as ambassador and minister of the tri-bunal parliament and served on various parliamentary commissions and committees. During this time, Mr van der Walt, partly politician and partly sociologist, became aware of the needs of the Bellville/Tygerberg society/constituency.
This much needed project was a solution to the renting problems surfacing as a result of the repealing of the Rent Control Act which had previously protected tenants. One such case, a tenant of Duminyhof, Weltevreden Street, who lost his home, led to the birth of Utilitas Retirement Centres as a Retirement Centre for senior residents during 1979.
By 1981 three goals had been identified and put into process of accomplishing
- Obtaining a location
- Needs analysis
- Securing government funds
To secure a Needs Analysis, Mr van der Walt negotiated with the ACVV Cape Town, who already had an approved Needs Analysis but unfortunately no funding. The Department of Community Development had already granted Utilitas Retirement Centres application for funds. After negotiations it was decided to hand over the Needs Analysis to Utilitas Retirement Centres but with some pre-requisites. Important players in this decision making was the ACVV’s director, Dr H Lambechts, Mrs Rykie Steenkamp (Chairperson of the ACVV), Mrs Maria Haak (wife of former minister Jan Haak) and Prof Narisscia Botha (member of the ACVV council). At the inauguration meeting, 2 ACVV directors and 3 Utilitas Retirement Centres directors were selected.
The ACVV’s expertise and knowledge played a key role in the development of Eureka Retirement Village, previously Huis Andre van der Walt. Also worth mentioning, is the Advisory Committee with Mr Rynie de Villiers (former principal) and Mrs R Fouche (former matron of the Karl Bremer-Hospital) as co-chairs. This committee did invaluable work liaising with the public and also in their considerate dealings with the senior citizens.
In 1983 Utilitas Retirement Centres was founded as a housing utility company under Section 21 of the Companies Act. The initiative that led to this founding, were in part, thanks to Mr Andre van der Walt, former senator Douglas Carr and former mayor of Bellville, Mr Tienie Meyer. They too, saw the immediate need for a Retirement Village in the Bellville area since the repealing of the Rent Control Act.
The main aim/purpose of this company, is to provide and administer homes and care facilities for senior residents. Incidentally, the all-in-one idea for Care Retirement Villages was first coined and implemented by Utilitas Retirement Centres. This convenient and integrated concept included:
- Providing housing to rent
- Providing housing to buy
- Nursing care / Assisted living / Frail Care facility / Alzheimer’s centre
- A social club for seniors
This combined service is actually what a loose translation of the Latin word ‘Utilitas’ means.
The founders and first directors were:
- Mr A van der Walt – Managing Director and Member of the National Assembly for Bellville in 1976
- Former Senator D Carr – Member
- Mrs R Steenkamp – Member and Representative ACVV
- Mr MD Meyer – Member, Former Mayor, Member of the Bellville municipality;
- Mrs M Haak