Famous Brands executive killed while cycling

Andre Piehl and a fellow cyclist were returning from a training ride on Saturday morning.
The death of Andre Piehl has prompted the mayor of Johannesburg to speak out against drunken driving. Image: Supplied

Andre Piehl (52), operations executive within the leading brands portfolio of JSE-listed Famous Brands, died on Saturday morning (January 29) after being hit by a car while on his way back from a cycling training session.

The group – which owns fast food brands Steers, Fishaways and Debonairs – confirmed the news of his passing in a company newsletter.

“It is with great sadness and disbelief, that I must share the tragic news of the untimely passing of our colleague and friend, Andre Piehl,” said Derrian Nadauld, chief operations officer of leading brands at Famous Brands.

“Andre was returning from a training ride near his home this morning [Saturday] when he was struck by a motor vehicle and succumbed to his injuries.”

Arrest

The South African Police Service (SAPS) confirmed to Moneyweb on Monday that a 30-year-old male was arrested at the weekend. A culpable homicide case was opened at the Diepsloot Police Station after the suspect allegedly hit two cyclists.

According to the Johannesburg Metro Police Department the second cyclist was airlifted to hospital and is in a critical condition.

The suspect, who was driving a white Porsche Cayenne SUV, is alleged to have been driving under the influence of alcohol when he hit the two cyclists.

The suspect was due to appear at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday. However, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) told Moneyweb that the matter was not placed on the court roll. The NPA said it will provide a report on Tuesday as to why the suspect did not appear in court as planned.

Suspect released

However, a statement released later on Monday by Harrington Johnson Wands (HJW) Attorneys – the law firm representing both victims – revealed that the suspect was released from detainment on Monday morning after prosecutors declined to place the matter on the court roll, claiming insufficient evidence.

“We are absolutely devastated to report that the suspect was released from detention… despite being arrested at the scene of the accident, and several eyewitness reports suggesting that the suspect was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol,” reads the statement by HJW Attorneys.

“We understand that the prosecutors at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court declined to place the matter on the roll due to insufficient evidence in the police docket.”

The law firm says it remains committed to obtaining justice for both victims and will be engaging senior prosecuting officials and will begin compiling all the evidence needed for the matter to proceed in court.

City condemns drunken driving

City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse on Monday called on law enforcement to investigate the case properly and ensure that justice is delivered.

“I take this opportunity to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the ongoing occurrence of drunken driving on South Africa’s roads,” she said.

“Based on preliminary information from the scene, it would appear that the driver of the white Porsche SUV may have been under the influence of alcohol.

“Further information indicates that the alleged driver may have also tried to flee from the scene of the deadly crash but could not do so because his vehicle was too damaged,” said Phalatse.

The mayor said it is clear that campaigns and warnings against drunk driving bear little fruit.

“It is disheartening that we continue to lose innocent lives as a result of the unlawful behaviour of drivers insisting on getting behind the wheel of a car when clearly under the influence of alcohol.

“It is time for a zero-tolerance approach to be adopted. No more talk of points demerit systems and seeking to coerce careless drivers to act appropriately.”

Read:

The mayor said the country and the city cannot afford the loss of life or the financial and economic devastation that comes with road crashes.

Andre Piehl, hit by a driver who was allegedly under the influence of alcohol. Image: Supplied

An ‘extraordinary contributor’

Piehl had been with Famous Brands for almost 15 years and held various managerial and executive roles across several of the group’s brands. According to Nadauld he received several accolades for his work and in 2020 was inducted as a Steers Master in recognition of his “extraordinary contribution”.

Read: A 140% hike in profit leads Famous Brands’s half-year recovery

As a cyclist and triathlete, Piehl represented South Africa at various sporting events around the world.

Famous Brands says Piehl, who is survived by his wife and two children, will be remembered as a passionate man who loved his family.

“Andre was a full-on guy who lived life to the max in everything he did, there were simply no half measures,” said Nadauld.

“He was passionate about everything he undertook and cared deeply for people.”

Nadauld lamented Piehl’s untimely departure from a world that he “embraced so wholeheartedly”.

“You have left massive shoes to fill and an energy void that will be impossible to replace,” he said.

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The only way to seriously deal with drunk driving is to prosecute the perpetrators to the full extent of the law – in this case as “ premeditated murder” Until this is done, drunk driving will continue and the consequences of such will never be taken seriously. This tragedy ( and many others). Should not have happened…it was not an “accident” it was a decision made with a clear head by the “killer”
My thoughts are with Mr Piehl’s family and friends.

Very saddening.

These sort of drivers should be prosecuted for murder, same with crossing double barrier lines. It is the wild west here and all races are guilty of these offences

One can speculate. Did money change hand with Saps etc or was the killer a well connected individual; noting the Porsche. Very sad but it is such in the third world.

In South Africa, it is safer to surf, even though the shark spotters have hoisted the danger flag, than to cycle on the roads. Sharks, unlike many drivers, are relatively harmless, rational, sober, and they keep their distance.

Africa has 574 road deaths per hundred thousand vehicles per year, compared to 19 for Europe. The European influence in South Africa brings our stats down to 134, otherwise, our figure would be similar to the rest of Arica. The tarred road is black, and black is the colour of death. Every time we venture on the bitumen road we are confronting death and playing with fate.

I used to cycle and that scared the hell out of me. Now I spend more time surfing, swimming, and diving in the ocean, and that calms me down.

I hope their Attorneys get to the bottom of why the driver did not appear in court, who the prosecutors are that came to that decision and also establish if this does not fly in the eye of normal processing and procedure and if it is, make them accountable for it. I hope for the family’s sake that blood samples were taken.

R.I.P and condolences to the family, friends and colleagues

“Based on preliminary information from the scene, it would appear that the driver of the white Porsche SUV may have been under the influence of alcohol.

“Further information indicates that the alleged driver may have also tried to flee from the scene of the deadly crash but could not do so because his vehicle was too damaged,” said Phalatse.
The mayor said it is clear that campaigns and warnings against drunk driving bear little fruit.”

Yet another extremely sad and graphic example of the reality of the failed State of South Africa. My deep condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

This happened to my Family in 2001. My 2 kids(3 and 6) were in the car with their Grandparents when a drunken driver smashed into them, and then he fled the scene! My Mother-in-law died as a result, my daughter was thrown from the vehicle down an embankment and landed up in the fast lane of the oncoming freeway, with the whole car landing 2 meters away from her a few seconds later. An 18 year battle with the the RAF ensued, as she was very lucky to survive, and will have ongoing surgery throughout her life.

I tracked his car to a Panelbeater, who alerted him, and his wife then turned him in.

He got a R25 000-00 fine and a 6 month suspended sentence!

What made it far worse was watching him laughing and joking with the Investigating officer and Prosecutor in Court! That very day I vowed to get my Kids out of here asap, which is done and dusted, sad as it is!!

My apologies, sincere condolences to his Family, colleagues , and friends, this should never have happened , it is not an accident!

I lost my brother to a drunk driver that could not even stand up. No breathalyser no blood test. He was allowed to leave the scene with his friends that had showed up to ‘intervene’. My brother passed 9 minutes later.

The problem is the TOTAL ABSENCE of rule of law, enforcement of same and complete contempt for our law officers, especially traffic officers. As long as this complete contempt is allowed to fester, from the streets to the top floor of Luthuli House these problems will only spiral further.

The moderators force me to mince my words.

Which country is at the top of the international ranking for the combination of the following problems – AIDS per capita, violent deaths per capita, rape per capita, drunken driving per capita, domestic violence, car accidents per 100 000 vehicles, obesity and diabetes, and the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world?

That nation will forever have a problem enforcing laws and regulations because the people are irresponsible and have zero self-respect and no sense of accountability. They undermine and destroy themselves at the greatest tempo on earth, what do they care about others?

No force can change it. You either accept it and learn to live with it or emigrate.

End of comments.

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