Backlash over Burry’s death

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iol news 05 jan SA ss burry wrap pic

INSLA

A cyclist puts candles alongside a bike that was chained to the Nelson Mandela bridge in memory of the legendary Burry Willie Stander who was knocked over and killed by a taxi driver in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

Durban - The police have announced that the minibus taxi driver involved in the collision that killed South African super cyclist Burry Stander will be charged with culpable homicide.

But the news offers little solace to the 25-year-old mountain biker’s grieving family; his father described Stander’s death as the worst moment of his life.

“No parent should ever have to see his child lying on a tarred road after an accident, knowing that there is absolutely nothing he can do to save his life.

“Words cannot even begin to describe how one feels when it happens. It was terrible,” Charles Stander said yesterday after the crash on Thursday that took his son’s life.

Colonel Jay Naicker said yesterday that, after consultations with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, it had been decided that the minibus driver would face a charge of culpable homicide. He would appear in the Port Shepstone Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Stander, who narrowly missed out on a medal for South Africa at the London Olympic Games last year, died in the crash that occurred while he was returning from a training ride in Shelly Beach, on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast.

The accident occurred outside Stander’s cycling shop, Concept Cyclery, which is managed by his father.

Further reports quoted witness Kevin Govender as saying the taxi driver appeared to be in shock. The driver told Govender he had not seen Stander and did not know how the accident occurred.

He had stood watching as Stander’s wife, Cherise, held his body in the road.

Last night, hundreds of cycling enthusiasts turned out to pedal from Rosebank to the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein, Joburg, in a memorial bike ride to honour Stander.

The cyclists chained a bike to the Nelson Mandela Bridge and left flowers as a tribute to Stander.

In Cape Town, thousands joined in another ride in his honour.

One of the athletes at the memorial was Stander’s Olympic team member James Thompson who described him as “the guy who inspired us all to achieve greater things”.

“He set such a high standard with his gutsy races we all thought he had a good chance at a medal during the Olympics,” said Thompson. “His ability to perform at the highest level was just incredible. We are all devastated, like his family.”

Another cyclist, Frank Bezuidenhout, said it was sad that Stander had died in this way but many more cyclists were being lost on the road annually.

“We are saddened by this, but I am not surprised because we lose at least six youngsters in our club every year from being run over on the road,” he said. “There is nothing we can do about it. The only thing we tell them is to look after themselves.”

Another cyclist who did not want to be named said, “you leave your house every day and you never know if you will come back”.

He urged authorities to do something about the plight of cyclists who are injured and killed on the road while doing what they love.

Stander’s funeral arrangements will be finalised next week.

Sports marketing consultant Zoon Cronje, who issued the family’s statement, said a Burry Stander Foundation would be established to help fund a campaign to bring about a change in legislation to help make cycling safer.

“Our initial plan with the Burry Stander Foundation is to raise funds to help to pay for any legal costs that may be incurred to drive the process,” he said.

“Later on we hope not only to assist various safe cycling initiatives, but also to help talented young riders to fulfil their dreams,” Cronje said.

Tomorrow, more than 600 cyclists from around Pretoria are expected to embark on another memorial ride. Pretoria Military Cycling Club chairman Michael Byleveld said road safety had always been a problem for cyclists, and that about 90 percent of their members swopped to mountain biking because it was safer.

Saturday Star


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