Mighty Men tragedy


He couldn’t wait to pack up his tent after the recent Mighty Men gathering in the KZN Midlands because he was in a hurry to get home to his family to share his experience. But 20 minutes after filling his motorbike with petrol in Greytown Jan Pieters hit a pothole and was killed.

People around SA were saddened by the tragedy that struck Jan (51) so soon after what friends said was his ‘‘intense encounter with God’’ at preacher Angus Buchan’s final Mighty Men gathering.

Now the wreck of his green 1800 cc bike is surrounded by photos, flowers and burning candles at the family panelbeating business in Bethlehem, Free State. And his wife, Malie (47), is mourning the loss of a second loved one in a motorcycle accident. Eight years ago Jan’s 17-year-old son, Mel, died in a similar tragedy.

‘‘Jan was determined to go to the Mighty Men conference again this year,’’ after attending one last year, Malie says.

She bade him farewell in the police mortuary in Greytown. ‘‘He lay there with a big, happy smile on his face,’’ she says.

Jan’s mom, Lily Pieters of Senekal in the Free State, recalls him as someone who always laughed ‘‘even when things went wrong. He smiled when he was born and that’s how he died – with a smile on his face’’.

Gawie (27), Jan’s eldest son, says the family will repair his damaged motorcycle. The bike. Jan’s crash helmet, leather jacket and other mementos will be kept in a glass cabinet.

‘‘This kind of event makes you think deeply,’’ Gawie says. ‘‘The [sand in the] hourglass is running out and there’s nothing you can do about it. When your glass is empty, that’s it.’’

Read the full article in the YOU of 6 May 2010

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