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South Africa’s art and publishing communities are mourning a tragedy suffered by one of the country’s most celebrated illustrators.
Piet Grobler is an award-winning artist who taught at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and at Stellenbosch University, and currently lectures in children’s books illustration at Cambridge University in the UK, where the family moved to in 2009.
Grobler was the illustrator of the popular Liewe Heksie series of children’s books.
He, his wife, Marie, and daughter, Catherina, 10, had been travelling between Johannesburg and Pretoria on Tuesday morning when the car they were in, a 4x4 station wagon, broke down in the fast lane of the R21, said Netcare 911 spokesman Jeff Wicks.
While the car was stationary, a bakkie smashed into it.
Wicks said Grobler’s wife and daughter had been airlifted to the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, where they had died from their injuries.
Grobler is understood to have been discharged from hospital on Wednesday.
Marie Grobler worked as head of music at Rhenish Primary in Stellenbosch for 17 years until 2008, and their daughter attended the school’s pre-primary class.
A staff member said the news had been greeted with shock and sadness.
“The whole school held a moment’s silence,” a staffer said.
“A number of our teachers knew her very well and Piet was also very involved in the school – we have his paintings all over the school.”
In addition to illustrating numerous children’s books, Grobler has also illustrated for a range of South African magazines and newspapers such as Sunday Times (Lifestyle), Sarie and Insig.