WATCH | Cape Town Lamborghini driver heard a bang, then saw flames
Millionaire entrepreneur George van der Riet heard a "big bang" moments before his R3m Lamborghini burst into flames at a shopping centre in Cape Town.
Video footage of the burning Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera spread like wildfire when it was shared on social media at the weekend.
TimesLIVE tracked down the owner – a former forex trader now involved in the entertainment business as the owner of Reset night club and Cherries strip club in Cape Town.
He purchased the supercar – one of several exotic vehicles in his collection - more than a year ago.
Van der Riet said he was cruising through the parking lot of Willow Bridge shopping centre at Tyger Valley on Saturday afternoon when he heard a "big, very hard bang".
"I just saw smoke and flames coming from the bonnet. I got a bit of a fright."
George van der Riet grabbed a fire extinguisher after his Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera went up in flames on Saturday, February 9 2019, in Cape Town.
He said he immediately got out of the car and grabbed fire extinguishers.
"I didn't give a dam. All I wanted was to put the fire out. I sprayed it until the fire extinguishers were finished. I didn't want to see my favourite Lamborghini go up in flames.
"We managed to put the fire out eventually. I wasn't scared. I felt disappointed," he said.
He said the flames had melted the front headlight and bumper and also damaged the inside of the boot – under the front bonnet. The engine is in the back of the vehicle.
Van der Riet said he was grateful for the swift response from firefighters in Belville.
"All emergency service personal get free entry at Cherries," he quipped,
The car, which is now parked at his home, was branded with the Cherries strip club logos.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
"I'm not sure if it was deliberate or sabotaged by someone. I will have to wait until I get an official report," he said.
For him, driving the car and seeing the reactions from the public was the most humbling feeling.
"If you drive past a school for instance, you will see all the boys go crazy. These cars really bring happiness and it is something to experience and to see what happiness it brings."
Despite the tragedy, his garage does not remain empty.
Van der Riet has a few Aston Martins, a Ferrari and a Lamborghini Gallardo convertible.
The Sunday Times reported in 2018 that Van der Riet was caught driving a Lamborghini without registration plates at more than 250km/h on the N1.
Van der Riet accused the traffic officers who pulled him over of unprofessional behaviour.
He said one of the ghost squad officers "pretended to race with me and when I got far away he put on the blue lights".
"I do not deserve to be treated like c**p because I drive nice cars. It is not true that my Lambo, which does over 300km/h with ease, was cut off by a little Golf that can hardly do 250km/h on an open road. They were chasing me like hijackers and I left them," he said at the time.
The website of one of his businesses said he always "lived on the edge, [with] fast exotic cars, wild parties and all the excesses that come with the huge pay enjoyed by successful forex traders".