Willie Engelbrecht

Willie Engelbrecht, born in 1964, is a police janitor who lives and works in the Boland, the area around Robertson in the Western Cape. Willie joined the police as a labourer at the Pinelands garage in 1989. After working at several other police stations, he is now permanently stationed at Robertson SAPS.
Willie has been living with HIV since 1998. He says, “I spent a long long time lying in hospital.  And, as I lay there – I realised no-one had time for me. But I hoped. I hoped there was just one person. One person that would come and support me. That’s what I hoped.”
Willie says, “To be a Positive Hero I needed to look at my life. If I really scratched into my life I had to see how long I had been sick for. Now I am healthy – I work hard in my community, there in Robertson. I am open about my status. I tell people how I got infected, I tell them where it happened.  I tell them what HIV really is and I warn them of the dangers.  And people pay attention. They take notice of me.”

There is more to Willie than meets the eye. He started running marathons competitively when he first joined SAPS.  Now, as a member of Positive Heroes’ Ultra-Marathon team, Willie has taken part in several ultra-marathons, such as the Two Oceans, Comrades, Voet van Afrika, PPC and the Wynland marathons. Over the years, Willie has amassed an impressive collection of medals, varying from Bronze to Gold.

“Every single day, there is someone that asks me:  ‘How’s it going with you Willie.  How are things?’. And I can honestly tell them, ‘It’s going very well with me, thank you.’  Because my exercise keeps me on top of things.  Keeps me healthy.  Keeps my spirits up.”

An indomitable man, with an indomitable spirit.  Willie is determined and works hard to make his dreams a reality. His endlessly positive attitude towards life is an inspiration to anyone affected or infected with the virus: “Now I am that one person who goes to visit.  Now I am the person that offers support.  Now I am a Positive Hero.”