Text: Leilani Basson
Let’s face it. Die Trok is not exactly the most appealing vehicle to look at and certainly not what one would associate with a top-rated nature programme on international TV. But hey, it grows on you, much like Projek Aardwolf’s main presenter’s hairstyle.
Most people would agree that Johann Botha would just not be Johann Botha without those often dreaded locks. And Projek Aardwolf would just not be the same without Die Trok.
“It wasn’t intentional to start this brand new nature programme with a 1984 Toyota Land Cruiser FJ60,” says Johann in that unmistakable voice. As the face of SABC’s 50/50 nature programme for the past….years, he has acquired a larger than life personality. And yes, he is big; he is tall, and his hair really looks like that every day.
“Most of the 50/50 team decided to cut their ties with the SABC and start something new on a different channel,” he says. “We were all out of jobs, but felt strongly enough about what we believed in to make the jump.
We had no finance or back-up for Projek Aardwolf, the programme we wanted to start, so I figured that if something went wrong with my Disco 3 in the middle of nowhere, I wouldn’t be able to fix it, or afford to have it fixed. What I needed was something simple and basic that I could fix myself.”
Johann started looking around for a not-so-rusty trusty for less than R100 000.
“When I saw an advert for a red 1984 Land Cruiser FJ60 with 300 000km on the clock for R50 000, I flew down to Durban to check it out. It was in much better condition than I expected, so I paid the money and drove it back to Joburg – without any problems.”
Because of the girls – Alti Fouche, Johann’s co-presenter, and crew-members Hermien Roelvert and Anika Smith – who often travel along, Johann thought it wise to replace the old engine rather than put the girls at risk.
“I bought a reconditioned engine and the girls helped me to fit it.” Luckily Johann has a history with broken-down cars he regularly had to fix as a youngster, and has acquired some pretty handy mechanical skills. Alti, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to get down and dirty by getting to know their new truck inside out. And so a week’s work started — with lots of pauses in-between for “braaivleis, vodka and juice”. During this time of “hardship”, the Cruiser was christened, “Die Trok”.