Stellenbosch mom opens up after accepting late son’s degree on his behalf

2018-12-13 14:58
Gerbrandt Kotzé. PHOTO: Supplied

Gerbrandt Kotzé. PHOTO: Supplied

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Tuesday evening was an emotional moment for everyone present when Amanda Kotzé accepted her late son Gerbrandt’s master’s degree on his behalf. 

“There are a lot of mixed feelings,” she told YOU. “Of course you wish you child were there to receive the degree himself but at the same time you feel honoured to be a part of his triumph – he’d worked so hard for it.”

Gerbrandt Kotzé was diagnosed with colon cancer In April 2017 and died on 28 May this year, shortly before his 27th birthday.

“It’s not common for cancer to be diagnosed in someone so young and it’s especially rare for the cancer to then spread to the liver, which is what happened with him,” Amanda says.

“But we’ve known for a while now that cancer isn’t just an old people’s disease – it also destroys the lives of young people. We’ve made peace with that.

“It [the diagnosis] was a terrible shock. Initially, doctors weren’t looking for cancer. Gerbrandt was very ill but we thought it was the flu or stress-related.”

Amanda says he responded well to chemotherapy at first but in the end the treatment didn’t produce the desired results.

Despite his condition Gerbrandt kept working on his master’s thesis. Two weeks after he died, his family received the news that he’d passed.

After the graduation ceremony Gerbrandt’s parents and brother, Dawid, celebrated the occasion with friends and family.

“Milkshakes were his favourite, so we all went out for chocolate milkshakes,” Amanda laughs.

She says her son loved people and always wanted to give back, so he probably would have used his science degree to become a teacher or lecturer. “Anywhere he could uplift people and instil a love of science in them. To be honest, if it were up to him, he probably would’ve started an orphanage.”

That’s why the family decided to celebrate Gerbrandt’s birthday on 1 July by collecting non-perishables to donate to the Andrew Murray orphanage in Paarl. Gerbrandt was buried in 2 July.

“Of course you miss you child. Everyone in our family was emotional this morning. But he wouldn’t have wanted us to become bogged down in grief. He’d have wanted us to carry on with our lives because he’s living in Heaven with the Lord now.”

A great comfort to her is the stories about her son that are told after his death. “You think you know your child but so many of his friends from church and university have come to us with the most beautiful stories about who he was to them.”

Amanda plans to frame her son’s degree certificate. “To remind us of his determination.”

Gerbrandt is survived by his parents, Amanda and Gerhard, elder brother Dawid, sister-in-law Cecilia and adopted sister Elizabeth.
Read more on:    stellenbosch university  |  cape town
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