Dec 9, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

How a kind heart lived and died for bicycles — and lost his life for one

Gert Vermeulen – a family man, IT specialist and passionate crusader who worked hard to get bike donations for rural children to go to school – was shot for a bike and a wallet.

Pretoria Police Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo said Vermeulen was out with his neighbor and his son in Mnandi, Centurion, on Saturday morning when they were attacked by five men.

Vermeulen’s neighbor and training partner Jannie Goosen told Netwerk24, that you rode past a group of four men walking down a dirt road. They were about to pass a fifth man who was talking on a cell phone when he drew a gun and shot Vermeulen twice without a word, killing him.

The attacker then took Vermeulen’s wallet and bicycle and casually rode off, followed of the four accomplices.

Masondo said “a case of armed robbery and murder has been opened,” and the police appealed to anyone with information to call the nearest police station or crime department on 08600 10111.

Goosen told Netwerk24 that he immediately contacted his community WhatsApp group and called his wife, who was with Vermeulen’s wife Ineke when the murder occurred. The women both arrived at the scene with other cyclists in the area, but Vermeulen had already died.

Goosen said Vermeulen’s son Jean, who lives in the US, was in South Africa and was visiting his parents when the murder happened. Her other son Guillaume, who lives in Malta, was due to arrive in South Africa on Sunday.

Vermeulen was a co-founder of Bikes4ERP – a non-profit that donates bikes to children in rural areas who walk more than 10 km per day to school. ERP stands for elephants, rhinos and people.

His business partner and co-founder Nicolai van der Merwe explained on the ERP website that he and Vermeulen met as work colleagues, became friends and started cycling together drive in 2012.

“I didn’t know that this was the beginning of a lasting friendship that would have a profound impact on my life,” he wrote 10 days ago in a blog post entitled “The ERP history “. ‘.

Van der Merwe said they researched and developed a project that has grown over the past six years and currently has helped over 400 children.

The website explains this for a A donation of R3,000, or $ 200 per bike, will be made available to a country child who enters into a two-year study contract to ride a bike to school. Bicycle use is monitored weekly and repairs are carried out by the “professional bicycle mechanic” Samuel Matheta.

The project aims to combat the exhaustion and absenteeism of rural children in the short term and improve their educational prospects in the long term.

“Interestingly, # BIKES4ERP had an unexpected and positive impact on our for-profit business. People from different practices and service areas, at different seniority levels, sometimes worked together in reverse relationships, from the seniority perspective. I love this unintended episode of # BIKES4ERP, “wrote Van der Merwe.

Vermeulen devoted much of his life to helping others with bicycles. He died for that too.