Tragic end for teacher, husband

THE death of 53-year-old Grens High School deputy principal Annelie Pelser and her Land Bank accountant husband Peet Pelser, 55, has shocked East London’s Afrikaans community.

The Pelser’s daughter, Landi, 23, was moved out from intensive care in Stellenbosch’s Mediclinic yesterday after suffering two broken upper limbs and fractures to her pelvis.

They were involved in a collision with a municipal fire engine near Stellenbosch on Christmas Day.

Landi’s sister, Jerine, 28, a teacher in Barkly East who was not in the vehicle, told a family friend that despite being in pain and heavily sedated, Landi was “feeling more positive after being very down yesterday”.

Grens principal Japie du Plessis and Lorraine Knickelbein, who serves on the executive of the school management team, said messages of shock and condolence had poured in from the community.

Du Plessis praised his hard-working deputy Annelie Pelser, who arrived at the 600-pupil school as a life sciences teacher in the mid ’90s and rose to second-in-command.

He lauded her passion for teaching, the dedication and empathy she showed to pupils, teachers and staff.

Knickelbein, also a friend of the Nahoon-based Pelsers, spoke of their love for fine dining, their daughters, walking their dog, their gardening, her reading and painting, and his cycling, which included completing a number of Argus Cycle Tours.

“Peet was an absolute gentleman. He, like his wife, was sympathetic and interested in people. He was a softy when it came to his daughters, and was very supportive of Annelie and their girls. They have left a void,” said Knickelbein.

Annelie only returned to school recently after recovering from injuries to her spine during a multiple vehicle pile-up on a veld fire smoke-clouded Drakensberg road in June.

Landi, who graduated this year with a degree in food science, was also in the car during the crash in the Berg and suffered a broken nose.

“They had never had an accident before, and then suddenly two in one year,” Knickelbein said.

Du Plessis said memorial arrangements were on hold until Landi had recovered sufficiently for the daughters to make their decisions. Stellenbosch’s acting fire chief Wayne Smit and the director of community protection services, Patrick Oliver, said at 3pm on Christmas Day Peet Pelser had not realised that vehicles approaching the Technopark and Blaauklippen Wine Estate robot intersection stopped for an oncoming medium-sized E1 Ford Truck fire engine laden with 2500kg of water.

Smit said despite the fire engine’s flashing lights and blasting sirens, it was possible that the intersection in a dip behind a grass embankment and a large wine barrel had affected Pelser’s view and hearing.

Pelser apparently overtook one or more stopped vehicles, and entered the intersection.

Smit said the fire engine driver, seeing how traffic had stopped and that the intersection was clear, had picked up speed.

The fire engine smashed into the driver’s side of the Volvo. —


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