Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden curator dies after cycling accident

Philip Le Roux during a cycling trip in Europe (Supplied by Etienne van Cuyck)
Philip Le Roux during a cycling trip in Europe (Supplied by Etienne van Cuyck)

Tributes were pouring in for the curator of the world-famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Philip le Roux, who died in the early hours of Wednesday after being injured in a cycling accident.

"He has done amazing stuff," said friend and fellow cyclist Robert Vogel, the CEO of Pedal Power Association.

It was Le Roux who gave the go-ahead to cut a cycling trail off the beaten track through parts of the 528-hectare park, so that cyclists could also enjoy its splendour.

Vogel said he and Le Roux had spent many hours walking possible trails and marking them out.

"He never saw it as a problem to have cyclists in the grounds. He was so happy. He was a cyclist himself."

Choking up, Vogel said that Le Roux was involved in a collision with a car at a popular spot known as Suikerbossie.

"He was in a coma, but did not improve. It's terrible."

Philip Le Roux, Kirstenbosch

(Supplied by Etienne van Cuyck)

According to posts on cycling site BikeHub, the accident occurred on December 2, around 07:30 on the way down Suikerbossie, as Le Roux approached the road.

One person urged riders to be aware of the vehicles at that point, cautioning that it is sometimes difficult for motorists to see riders approaching from the path.

Le Roux, a Parktown Boys High School alumnus, started as curator of the gardens in 1987 after a period of study in horticulture and forestry.

"He loved music," said friend and fellow cyclist Etienne van Cuyck.

He said that Le Roux enjoyed attending outdoor concerts and would pull out a piece of paper to write down the name of a good band that was playing, look them up, and try to get them to perform at the gardens.

Van Cuyck and Le Roux have cycled together locally and overseas.

He was with Le Roux on the morning of the accident.

It occurred at a known hotspot for accidents, with cyclists having to brake down a hill, and vehicles not always having good sight of them coming on to the road.

There is a traffic light, but cyclists have also been discussing whether there are other ways of making it safer, and are urging even more caution at that point.

"It was very sad," Van Cuyck said. "He was such a gentleman."

Philip Le Roux

(Supplied by Etienne van Cuyck)

He paid tribute to Le Roux's work at Kirstenbosch gardens and said that, although the gardens could say more about his work, he felt that Le Roux "did so much for the place".

The SA National Botanical Institute, which is in charge of the gardens, was asked to comment and, when its reply is received, it will be added.

Le Roux leaves a wife and a son.

Western Cape police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi said that circumstances surrounding the incident are unknown at this stage.

"A case of culpable homicide was registered for further investigation. No arrest has been made as yet," he said.

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