A prominent Nottingham Road potato and maize farmer who was killed in a car crash in Howick last week was in the process of emigrating.In less than three weeks, Johannis-Jan (JJ) van de Velde, his wife Samantha, and their three children were due to start a new life in Australia.All five of their farms were auctioned earlier this year and the family’s containers are already being shipped to Australia, where they have bought a farm.But last Friday, tragedy struck and Van de Velde was killed in a head-on collision near the Tweedie junction on Main Road in Howick.A family spokesperson, Candice Strydom, told The Witness that Van de Velde had been on his way home after meeting with a friend for tea when the accident happened.“It was a horrific accident … It’s all been a big shock to the family because JJ was such a strong man.“It was the last thing we expected to happen to him,” said Strydom.“The timing couldn’t have been worse. You just can’t understand why these things happen. Sam had actually bought flight tickets the day before the accident. They had all their ducks in a row and everything was planned.“He was her best friend. They did everything together; you couldn’t say Sam without JJ and vice versa. They were always a unit and partners in their farming,” said Strydom.She said Samantha had spoken to her husband shortly before the accident on Friday.“She phoned him to come home around 5.30 pm or so and she waited and waited. When he didn’t come, she asked her eldest son to go and see if his car hadn’t broken down somewhere.”When his son was driving down Main Road, he came across the accident.Originally from Holland, Van de Velde replaced a farming future in Holland with one in the Midlands after purchasing the farm Zuivergoud outside Nottingham Road in 2000.He arrived in the Howick area from Holland in 1993 after getting a job with Fowler Farming, where he worked over five years before purchasing his farm.In 2005, Van de Velde was selected as the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) Young Farmer of the Year.Subsequently, he was for many years one of South Africa’s most sought-after seed potato producers.Sandy la Marque, Kwanalu chief executive officer, said: “He also showed an exceptional display of generosity when he donated 800 bales of hay to aid of his fellow farmers suffering from the crippling drought in the Hluhluwe area during 2016.”Sanette Thiart, chief executive officer of the Potato Certification Service, where Van de Velde served on the board of directors since 2013, described him as an “outstanding farmer”.“I get goose bumps when I think about the loss for South Africa,” said an emotional Thiart.“He was such an example for every one of us. It is a huge tragedy for us to lose such a hardworking farmer,” she added.