Proud to call Australia ‘my home'
FRANCOIS BEZUIDENHOUT has landed on his feet since fleeing from the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe 11 years ago.
Mr Bezuidenhout, a commercial pilot, now flies the private Boeing 727 of an Arab sheikh, spending 32 days away and 32 days at home.
“I can't say where I'll be going next, but last week I flew the Congolese president to a meeting of the African Union,” he said.
It seems flying is in the Bezuidenhout blood, as his brother was a wing commander in the Rhodesian Air Force and daughter Jaydene has her eyes set on the cockpit of an FA-18 Hornet via the Australian Defence Force Academy when she leaves school.
Yesterday, Francois (Bez), his wife Valerie, and their two children, Jaydene, 16, and Tane, 12, became full-fledged Australian nationals in a citizenship ceremony at the Lismore City Council Chambers.
“We came here for the life-style – it is similar to Zimbabwe with the outdoors, the barbecues and the rugby,” Mr Bezuidenhout said.
“Zimbabwe became very bad – we basically left with nothing and started from scratch.
“I worry about my parents, who are still there while friends are being murdered around them.
“There was no future for the kids there so we had to get out
“We'd love to get my parents out, too, but it's hard for them to leave everything.”
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell described the ceremony as the most joyous part of her mayoral responsibilities.
“It is a formal and solemn occasion, but I like to make it warm so people are at ease,” she said.
Another 14 people – with another 14 stories – achieved citizenship yesterday, including three who have lived here for more than 50 years.
For them it was the final seal to formally acknowledge the country they've long loved and called home.