Cycling victim’s wife pours out heart: ‘This fight is for all’

The cycling fraternity took a strong stance against lawlessness amongst road users at the launch of the national safe cycling campaign #cyclistslivesmatter in the Cradle of Humankind.

 A brave Sharon Piehl, wife of the late André shedding a tear at the launch of the #cyclistslivesmatter campaign.

The death of renowned triathlete André Piehl was the last straw for the cycling fraternity at large.

Piehl and fellow cyclist Jean du Preez were cycling on the R512 in Lanseria on Saturday, January 29, when the driver of a luxury Porsche SUV crashed into them, killing Piehl and critically injuring Du Preez.

André Piehl.

In honour of Piehl and many others who may have been the victims of recklessness and careless drivers, the Pedal Power Association (PPA), one of South Africa’s largest cycling organisations, launched the national safe cycling campaign #cyclistslivesmatter at the Valverde Eco Hotel in the Cradle of Humankind on Saturday, March 5.

Dignitaries from national and local government as well as prominent role players and members of the media were invited to discuss concerns and provide recommendations to improve the safety of cyclists in South Africa, and address the lack of prosecution of offenders in cycling-related cases.

To show their support for the campaign, cyclists were asked to do a cycle loop and then take a selfie in front of the #cyclistslivesmatter media wall and post it, using the hashtag #cyclistslivesmatter.

During her speech, a devastated yet brave Sharon Piehl poured out her heart.

She described André as a giant of a man not only in stature but in who he was as a person.

“It’s just been an incredible journey for the family. André finished two Iron Man events, raced at the World Championships and many other competitions. I actually feel like I did my fair share of racing despite not competing.

“In the sport that he loved and had brought him so much excitement, a sport that connected him with wonderful friends, even travelling around the world, I watched him hurt beyond measure, push himself to the limits even though his body said no more, but his mind and heart drove him further.

“Because he chose to do what he loved, my André was killed by a reckless driver and that is senseless and tragic. Our roads are littered with reckless driving, a complete disregard for the law and utter disrespect for other road users; be it pedestrians or commuters who travel far distances to work on our roads.

“To other drivers, there have been too many, far more than just the names that we know and the people in our circles; countless others who don’t have the means to shout out for change and claim justice. To my friend Janette, whom I came to meet through tragic circumstances, we remember Alex and this fight goes on for him too. To Jean, I’m so grateful to God and his graciousness for keeping you safe.

Jean du Preez believes it to be a miracle that he survived.

“We are grateful to have the support of the police, National Prosecuting Authority, and Megan and her firm in pursuit of justice, but my wish is that this does not stop. Not only because we are privileged to have the means to make a loud noise, but that every citizen who uses our roads is safe and protected by the law, should the unimaginable happen. I thank you for honouring André here today.”

PPA chairman Neil Robinson says the death of one cyclist is one too many.

PPA CEO Neil Robinson said the #cyclistslivesmatter campaign aims to spread a strong and powerful message.

It will focus on the lack of prosecution of offenders responsible for fatal and serious crashes, and attacks on roads.”

The PPA said the #cyclistslivesmatter campaign has since been extended to other major cycling events and wherever they host rides in South Africa. Cyclists participating in the 2022 Cape Town Cycle Tour on March 13 for example, will be able to take a #cyclistslivesmatter selfie to support the campaign at registration and at the finish.

Cycle Lab co-owner Andrew McLean wants justice to be served, not only in the Piehl/ Du Preez case.

Cycle Lab co-owner Andrew McLean said #cyclistslivesmatter media walls will be placed in their five stores countrywide, adding that he wanted justice to be served.

This is really a movement to say there has to be consequences. You cannot just mow down a cyclist, kill them, cause havoc in these families’ lives and there are no consequences. Hopefully, we are going to see justice served not just in this case, but going forward.”

The suspect who is facing multiple charges made his first appearance in the Randburg Magistrates’ Court on February 7. He is due to appear in court again on May 18.

In an official statement issued by Harrington Johnson Wands (HJW) Attorneys early last month, lawyer Megan Harrington-Johnson, who is representing the Piehl and Du Preez families stated, “… thanks to great teamwork between ourselves, in the capacity of Watching Brief, the police and NPA sufficient evidence has been secured to enable the suspect in this matter to be properly brought before court.

We will do everything in our power to ensure that justice is obtained for both André and Jean.”

At the launch, Harrington-Johnson thanked everyone for their overwhelming support and assistance. She requested that anyone who has any information about the incident or had witnessed it please to contact them at megan@hjw.co.za.

Lawyer Megan Harrington-Johnson of HJW Attorneys vowed that the firm will do everything in their power to ensure that justice is obtained for both André and Jean.

Read original story on krugersdorpnews.co.za