World’s oldest man dies at the age of 116

Fredie Blom - seen here on his 116th birthday - said there was no special secret to his longevity. Photo via Tek Deeps

Cape Town, South Africa — A South African man who was considered to be the oldest man in the world has passed away at the age of 116.

The identity documents of Fredie Blom showed that he was born in Eastern Cape province in May 1904. However, this was never verified by Guinness World Records.

When Mr Blom was a teenager, his entire family was wiped out by the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. But he survived it and went on to survive through two world wars and apartheid.

In 2018, Mr Blom told BBC that there was no special secret to his longevity.

“There’s only one thing – it’s the man above [God]. He’s got all the power. I have nothing. I can drop over any time but He holds me,” he said.

Mr Blom had spent most of his life as a laborer. He first worked on a farm and then in the construction industry as a laborer. Mr Blom retired when he was in his 80s.

Mr Blom was a regular smoker, although he gave up drinking many years ago.

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

According to Mr Blom’s family, he died due to natural causes in Cape Town on Saturday.

“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.”

He also added that within days, Mr Blom shrank “from a big man to a small person.”

Mr. Naidoo says that his family does not believe that Mr Blom’s death was related to Covid-19.