Cyclists across South Africa have been taking part in rides in memory of Olympic mountain bike rider Burry Stander, killed when he was hit by a taxi while heading home from a training ride on Thursday in Shelley Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. A foundation to push for the safety of cyclists is also being set up in his name.
As well as commemorating the 25-year-old, one of the biggest stars in the close-knit South African cycling community and fifth in the cross-country mountain bike race at London 2012, the rides are also being staged to call for safer conditions on the country’s roads for cyclists.
Tour de France runner-up and Olympic time trial bronze medallist Chris Froome, who has spent Christmas and New Year back in South Africa, the country he grew up in, tweeted on Thursday: “Very sad start to the new year and a massive loss to African cycling with the passing of Burry Stander.”
Hundreds participated in a ride in Johannesburg yesterday evening – there’s a picture of the ride here, posted to Instagram by Froome’s girlfriend, Michelle Cound – including Tour de France stage winner Robbie Hunter, current South African national road race champion, pictured here as the ride passed Johannesburg zoo.
The driver of the taxi-minibus involved in Thursday’s incident will appear in a magistrates’ court on Monday in Port Shepstone, around 100km south of Durban on the Indian Ocean.
Police Colonel Jay Naicker, quoted on the website of broadcaster SABC, said: "Following consultations with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions it was decided to prosecute the man on a charge of culpable homicide."
That offence, defined as “"the unlawful negligent killing of a human being," often forms the basis of charges against motorists involved in fatal collisions in the country.
“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,” said Stander’s father Charles, in a statement published on the cyclist’s Facebook page.
“It is definitely the worst moment of my life. Words cannot even begin to describe how one feels when it happens. It was terrible.
“For us Burry will always be more than just a mountain-bike champion,” he continued. “In fact, he was a champion on and off his bike. For him his family always came first. He never hesitated to help when, and where ever, he could.”
Zoon Cronje, Stander’s agent, explained the thinking behind the foundation that will be set up in his name.
“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. Later on we hope to not only assist various safe cycling initiatives but also to assist talented young riders to fulfil their dreams.”
He added that his ZCMC agency’s existing relationships would enable it to set up official rides in Stander’s memory across the country, with more details being published via Facebook as and when appropriate.
"We are fortunate to have the organisers of the Pick n Pay Cape Argus Cycle Tour helping us with the Cape Town leg, the organizers of the Momentum 94.7 Cycle Challenge assisting with the Gauteng leg and also support from Andrew Maclean via CycleLab and Fritz Pienaar via Advendurance. There will also be a ride on the South Coast where Burry is from," he explained.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.