South African thought to be the world’s oldest man dies at 116

A South African who was thought to be the oldest man in the world has died at the age of 116.

Fredie Blom’s identity documents showed he was born in Eastern Cape province in May 1904, although that was never verified by Guinness World Records.

When he was teenager, his entire family was wiped out by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. He went on to survive two world wars and apartheid.

Although he gave up drinking many years ago, he was a regular smoker.

However, a coronavirus-related lockdown imposed by the South African government reportedly meant he was unable to buy tobacco to roll his own cigarettes on his 116th birthday.

Mr Blom’s family said he died of natural causes in Cape Town on Saturday.

“Two weeks ago oupa [grandfather] was still chopping wood,” family spokesman Andre Naidoo told AFP.

“He was a strong man, full of pride.”

But within days Mr Blom shrank “from a big man to a small person”, he added.

Mr Naidoo said the family did not believe his death was related to Covid-19.