Brothers Francois (left) and Jonathan (right) pictured with Ms Joy Matodzi, whose actions led to the safe return of the Van Heerdens' Teacup Yorkie, Cocco (held by Joy). Photo supplied.

Tuck shop vendor restores family's faith in humanity

Date: 08 March 2024 By: Karla van Zyl

The hearts of the Van Heerden family from Louis Trichardt are bursting with joy with the safe return of their much-loved Teacup Yorkie, Coco. He was reunited with his human family after disappearing from their home at the end of February.

Coco found his forever home with the family during lockdown four years ago, with brothers Francois (10) and Jonathan (8) as his best friends. On Thursday, 29 February, things took a turn for the worse, however, when Coco was suddenly nowhere to be found. Since then, a dark cloud has been looming over the family.

The whole family was heartbroken, but Francois and Jonathan took Coco's disappearance the hardest. According to mom Helen van Heerden, the two boys prayed constantly for Coco's safe return home. But every now and then, their prayers turned to tears with the realisation that Coco might not be coming home again. However, Francois and Jonathan's prayers were answered.

On Saturday morning (2 March), the Van Heerdens were preparing to travel to Polokwane where their boys were scheduled to play rugby. The phone rang, with Alicia Thomas from the SPCA Louis Trichardt on the other end. "Helen, I think that I may have Coco," Alicia said over the phone.

The story would later unfold as to how Coco made his way home again. Everything started when Ms Joy Matodzi from Nzhelele noticed a man dragging a small Yorkie on a leash behind him. Joy runs a small mobile tuck shop in Kruger Street, not far from the Van Heerdens’ home. Joy said she saw the man drag and kick a little dog that desperately tried to get away from him. She immediately knew that she had to help the little dog, believing that no animal should be treated like that. Joy also stated that she knew that it was someone else's dog as "the dog had a very nice haircut and was well taken care of".

Joy confronted the man and an argument ensued. She wanted to take the dog from the man, but the man demanded R150 for the dog. Without a second thought, she paid the man the R150 and took the dog, which turned out to be Coco.

Joy took Coco home with her, after she had gone to the local police to report Coco as a stolen dog. After two days, she managed to get into contact with Blouberg Animal Clinic and from there she contacted the SPCA in Louis Trichardt. Alicia met up with Joy early on Saturday morning as her workday starts at 06:30. Alicia immediately knew she was looking at the missing Coco and phoned Helen.

A grateful Van Heerden family repaid Joy the R150. As the owners of Super Signs, they also undertook to rebrand Joy's mobile truck completely as a token of their gratitude. The family, however, still views this as but a small thank you for the huge act of kindness shown by Joy.

But Joy did not take the R150 she was paid back for herself. According to Helen, Joy told her that she would use the money to help other animals in need, believing that God would show her which animals to help. The Van Heerden family thanked Joy again for returning Coco home safely, as well as the Louis Trichardt SPCA for all their wonderful work and caring hearts. They also thanked Joy for restoring their faith in humanity.



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Karla van Zyl

Karla van Zyl joined the newspaper team in February 2021 as a junior intern.


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