Daniel Kruger could hardly have known that a friendly comment to a woman on her motorbike would give him a fresh chance off the streets.
The homeless 25-year-old was standing at traffic lights close to Durban’s city centre on Thursday when marketing company owner Storm Steen pulled up.
He didn’t ask for money.
Instead, he told her it was the first time he had seen a lady on a bike.
“Just his smile and a friendly comment made me feel good about my day. It’s very seldom these days that people are genuinely friendly without wanting something in return,” Steen said on Tuesday.
The encounter stayed with her.
After hearing about community building at Bible study that night, she resolved to help him.
With the last few hundred rand in her bank account, she bought clothing, toiletries and some food to put in a backpack.
She returned the next day to find out his name and life story.
He told her he and his high school sweetheart had married and later moved to Durban for work.
When his wife was eight months pregnant, her uterus apparently burst and both she and the baby died after an emergency C-section.
From there it was a downward spiral of heroin use and numerous suicide attempts, Steen said.
“He said he was locked up for heroin and released this year. He had been on the streets for three months trying to get back on his feet.”
Steen said she knew drug addicts could be the best liars and she had been cautious, checking his arms for signs he was still a user.
Satisfied, she handed over the backpack.
He cried for 20 minutes.
Taking a chance, she agreed to meet him at a public place that night.
Using the little money he had, he bought two drinks as they chatted.
“He was such a gentleman, pulled out the chairs and refused to let me pay for anything. He even bought me a rose, a beaded daisy from a street vendor and a bracelet.”
It was difficult to find a job with a criminal record, but he had been trying to save up and start a car washing business for companies.
Steen said she made an “investment” and bought him the materials he needed to get started.
He apparently struggled between holding the shopping packets and using his hands to wipe away his tears.
Her friends also offered him the use of a room at the back of their Musgrave home until December.
This was on condition that he stayed clean.
“He seems like a decent guy and is trying to get his life straight,” Steen said.
“If you are in a rough patch, all it takes is that one person and you can achieve massive things.”
— Storm Steen (@ItsStormSteen) September 7, 2015