South African Fredie Blom, who was thought to be the oldest man in the world, has died at the age of 116.
His identity documents showed he was born in Eastern Cape province in May 1904, although that was never verified by Guinness World Records.
When Fredie Blom was teenager, his entire family was wiped out by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. He went on to survive two world wars and apartheid.
Fredie Blom spent most of his life as a laborer – first on a farm and then in the construction industry – and only retired when he was in his 80s.
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 Fredie Blom was unable to buy tobacco to roll his own cigarettes on his 116th birthday.
His family said he died of natural causes in Cape Town on August 22.
“Two weeks ago oupa [grandfather] was still chopping wood,” family spokesman Andre Naidoo told AFP news agency.
“He was a strong man, full of pride.”
But within days Fredie Blom shrank “from a big man to a small person”, he added.
Andre Naidoo said the family did not believe his death was related to Covid-19.