“Nothing is impossible. If you really want, you can do everything”
After Ronnie decided to quit university, built up a hotel, got millionaire and lost everything, he left Europe for over 35 years behind.
After travelling in Australia for one year, he finally came to South Africa.
Here began a new chapter in the life of a lion.
“When I came to South Africa, I was full of energy, dreams and hopes. From the first day on I felt that here was my future. Something big will happen.”
And Ronnie was from the beginning on lucky. With the experience of having an own hotel, it was easy for him to find a job. First he was working as a hotel manager for a gay couple.
“Brian and Charlie were nice guys. One time they called me in the night, and when I came to their place they stood both naked in the door. Even though I liked to work for them and I knew it would break their heart, I was not interested.”
After that Ronnie worked for different people, but it got obviously that he needed to stand on his own feet. One more time life was good to Ronnie. A friend of a friend invited him to take care of his farm. Without hesitating, Ronnie and his family were on the way.
Over 15 hectar of land deep in the wild of Africa.
“It was amazing” – Ronnie remembered with a smile – “On the land I had a little shop where I was selling goods to the locals.”
But Ronnie’s advanture in Africa just started. A friend of him told him about the opportunity to make big money in building business.
“I always liked to do new things. So I decided to give it a try.”
Ronnie left the farm and moved to Krugersdorp. And like he says, he tried a lot of things.
“I had over 15 cows, my own grill restaurant and a beer garden. I did so many things, I cannot even remember all.”
And of course, Ronnie had an own building company.
He built over 400 houses and made connections that changed his life again.
“I was building night clubs for the rich people, when they asked me if I would like to make a holiday in Brasil.”
Ronnie spent four amazing weeks in South America and flew back with a few kilos of cocaine. The check out of Brasil was going good, but already on the airport in South Africa problems started.
“My visa was expired and they did not want to let me back into the country.” – explained Ronnie. With no valid visa and a luggage full of cocaine, Ronnie was cought in the transit. But he had a good idea.
“There was no chance to enter the country, I had to fly back to Brasil to deal in the embassy with my situation. So I asked the security if he could give my luggage with dirty clothes to my wife. And imagine, ” – Ronnie laughed – “He really did it. The security man took my bag full of cocaine, brought it around the security gate and gave it to my wife.”
Maybe Ronnie was too lucky. Instead of learning his lesson and being happy with what he got, he tried a second time. This time with nearly 10 kilos.
“It was a disaster. I wanted to take a flight to Russia, from there to Dubai and then to Mozambique. From there I wanted to cross the border over land. But already in Russia the adventure was over. In the end Russian police caught him on the airport in Moscow, Ronnie spent a few tousand euros bail, came out on probation, spent another four weeks with his lawyer in Russia before he could go home.
“I was very lucky. This time I could have easily ended up for a few years in Russian prison.”
And Ronnie learned his lesson. He stopped smuggling cocaine from South America and focused on his building business.
Everything went good, he built up his place and spent happy years with his family.
But again a friend made him an offer, Ronnie could not resist.
“It was a conversation that change your life forever.” – Ronnie described the moment when his friend asked him to work together. The idea was to press the money of South Africa.
“You need a little bit of research, then it is actually not that difficult.”
His friend had already built up the beginning. Ronnie invested 30 000 Euro more in mashines and material, then they started to press their own coins.
“We focused on the 5 Rand.”
A life began that many people only know from the movies. The main problem was to bring the money in circulation without being suspicious.
“One thing is to press the money, another thing is to find a way to spend it. But at this time in casinos you still paid cash. This was the solution. We pressed the money, then we went to the casinos and there we were playing on the automats. Of course you loose a little bit, but you also always win. And you went home with clean money.” – Ronnie explained the strategy.
Everything went good and Ronnie was one more time millionaire. He was already planning to buy a big villa and a sailing yacht. When suddenly one day a helicopter landed in his garden and policemen with mashine guns came into his house. The dream was over. Maybe it was the gardener boy, maybe the owner of one casino, but Ronnie one more time lost everything.
“The government of South Africa was making a deal with me.” – Ronnie explained – “If I confessed, my family and my property would stay untouched.”
But the government was lying. Ronnie confessed and got five years. But while he was in prison, the government sold his land.
“One time I could fight out of prison against the selling and declare it as illegal. But it did not help. They just opened the same case again, gave it another number, faked my signature and sold my property again. I just got to known about it monthes later, and was unable to do anything against it. The most horrible thing on prison is how helpless you are. You can do simply nothing.”
The next years Ronnie spent in prison. He was the only white man in a 50 person cell and there was one toilet in the middle of the room.
“The first monthes were the hardest. After one month my hair was grey, after two monthes I lost 20 kilos and after three monther I could not even walk anymore the stairs. I had to make a decision. Dying on this place or fighting one more time for my life.”
Ronnie decide not to give up.
“The turning point was a lunch in the dining hall. Everybody got one glass of milk. But for weeks the guy gave me only a little sip. Many times I took it, this time I was asking for more milk. The guy smiled and just put one sip more. I did not hesitate for a second. I took my glass and smashed it in his face. The guards came and beat me up, the next weeks I spent in isolation cell. But when I came out, I had the respect and always a full glass of milk.”
From this time on life in prison got better for Ronnie. He could make connections, started to train and got better food.
“Still I was like a ghost. For five years I did not see the stars. I only knew the changes of the seasons from a tree that I saw through a little window in my cell.”
His main motivation to keep on was the hope to see his family and to fight for his rights and get back his property. But the government did not even give him a chance.
“On the day of my release they put me in a pickup and drove me to the airport. I was on a black list and not allowed to enter South Africa ever again. My wife i could only see one time from far.”
Ronnie left South Africa and flew back to Belgium. A new part in his life began…to be continued