The body of a Bethlehem businessman has been found on his business premises in the Free State town this week and his friends and family are reeling in shock.
Gerard de Boer, 45, was the owner of Solomons Mica.
His wife, Lize, and father, Henk, found his body on Saturday evening just before 19:00. On Monday, police denied rumours that Gerard had died by strangulation.
A murder is still being investigated, but the cause of death isn’t strangulation, Captain Screamer Tshabalala of the Bohlokong police told YOU.
"The investigation is in a sensitive stage and no further information can be shared with the media at this time," Tshabalala says.
In the meantime, on Monday Gerard’s family told YOU they’re still in shock and not ready to speak to the media.
Susan Solomons, a colleague of Gerard, says the family are "out of their minds with grief" at the sudden death of their dad, husband and mentor.
'She’s shattered, broken. She can barely speak to anyone.'
"Lize is completely out of it. She’s shattered, broken. She can barely speak to anyone. The family are going through a terrible time – our hearts bleed for them," Susan says.
Family members are coming from all over the country to support Lize and the children, according to Susan.
"The four little boys know about their dad’s death but they’re extremely confused – death doesn’t really make sense to them yet. The little girl doesn’t know yet, she’s being protected.
"But it’s terribly hard. To think you have to support and comfort your children while you don’t even have the strength to get out of bed yourself," Susan says, referring to Lize.
Redene Labuschagne, a friend of Gerard who worked closely with him for more than a decade, tells YOU she hasn’t processed the shock of his death.
A few days before his body was found, she’d sent Gerard a picture message with the words: "The big difference between time and money: you always know how much money you have – but you’ll never know how much time you have."
Four days later, Gerard was dead.
"When I heard the news, I thought it couldn’t be possible. It’s not true. Someone’s spreading fake news. Then an old friend confirmed it. I really can’t believe it," Redene says.
Gerard is described as a warm-hearted man who’d been a pillar of the community.
"He was involved in everything. He always knew how to cheer you up, and he was always giving compliments. You could call him any time and he’d help," Redene says.
'He’d wanted to make a big difference in the world'
He’d always wanted to make a difference in his community and the country, she adds.
"There was too much he still had to do and wanted to do. He’d wanted to make a big difference in the world.
"I can’t imagine what his loved ones must be going through . . . It feels as if Bethlehem not only lost a great tree, but as if a main artery to its heart’s been severed."
Gerard and his family. (Image via Facebook)
She pauses for a moment.
"I’ll never forget how excited Gerard was when they discovered Lize was expecting a girl – they have four boys. It was such a big thing for them.
"Now he’ll never be part of her life, or of the rest of his family members’ lives."
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