March 10 2010 at 12:57PM
By Clayton Barnes
A veteran cyclist who was part of the group hit by a bakkie in Oudtshoorn on Monday says it was not yet light and that the group was riding safely when the accident happened.
Oudtshoorn pharmacist and 10-times Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour rider Lourens Theron sustained minor injuries after the white Isuzu bakkie ploughed into him and other cyclists – some of whom were training for this weekend’s cycle tour – on the R62 between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn.
The driver of the bakkie, 62-year-old George Aspenaal from Ladismith, told police he had been blinded by the sun and had not seen the pack of cyclists while overtaking a truck.
Aspenaal appeared in the Oudtshoorn Magistrate’s Court briefly yesterday, facing a charge of culpable homicide.
He was released on R500 bail and is due to appear again on May 14.
Theron said the sun was not yet up at the time of the incident. He said although it was light, the sun had not risen yet.
“There was no sun, it was definitely not up yet,” said Theron.
“The sun rises from 6.30am in Oudtshoorn. The incident happened at about 6.07am.”
Theron, who was cycling with his wife Mariaan in the front of the pack, said the group was adhering to the rules of the road, cycling in single file.
“We kept it safe, but were taken out on the gravel – way off the road surface,” he said.
The R62 has no shoulder, only a yellow line with gravel on the sides.
Three cyclists – Magda van Lill, 50, Frank Nel, 60, and Jan Eloff, 72 – died on the scene.
Two others, Walter Langdon and Johann Lotter are recovering in hospital.
Yesterday, the small Karoo town was still coming to terms with the shocking news.
Owner of the local bicycle shop, Essie Esterhuyse, described the late cyclists as “legends”.
Of Nel, he said: “He was a wonderful man. Everyone loved him. He even held daily spinning classes at his home.”
He said Eloff was a keen Cape Argus cyclist, who trained hard and loved cycling.
“A lot of money goes into upgrading rugby and soccer stadiums, something needs to be done for cyclists. We need dedicated lanes.”
Andre Venter, who was also part of the group but escaped unscathed, said about 1 000 cyclists in the Southern Cape had given up road cycling because it was “simply too dangerous”.
“Most the guys are now mountain bikers,” he said.