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UPDATED: 26/07/2021

26 July 1996, Five men die when plane crashes at the Prison grounds.
26 July 2000, Brian Hermanus, world-rated swimmer from the apartheid years, killed in car accident. He was the MEC for Sport Arts and Culture.

Kimberley’s worst aviation disaster

The aeroplane crash that killed all five passengers shortly before 16h00 on Friday 26 July 1996 is Kimberley’s worst aviation tragedy.

The five city men who died so tragically were the pilot and owner of the aeroplane, Cyril Robinson (38 years old), Gerrit Bezuidenhout (34), Arrie Taljaard (28), Peter Slater (32), and Charles Dippenaar (23).


Gerrit Bezuidenhout

The plane, a two-engine, six seater Beechcraft Baron, had been on a mission in search of a truck hijacked earlier that day from Gerrit Bezuidenhout’s business, Pyramid Warehousing.

A witness to the crash in the Kimberley Prison’s ground off Schmidtsdrift Road, Faan de Jager, stated that “It was making an unusual noise. I went out to look and realized the plane was going to crash. There was a bit of a struggle, you could see that the pilot was trying to stabilize the plane…then it crashed.”

The pilot’s son, Cyril Robinson Junior, aged 15 years, also witnessed the accident. “I saw the plane spin and heard the engine cease…there was a loud crash as the plane hit the ground. I ran to see what happened, but they would not let me go to the plane.”

The plane was totally wrecked, and aviation experts were on the scene the next day to conduct an investigation.

Cyril Robinson, an experienced pilot with more than ten years flying, left his wife Irene and children Melany, Cyril and Kevin to mourn his passing.


Beechcraft Baron

Gerrit Bezuidenhout, son of the well-known Bloemfontein auctioneer Junior Bezuidenhout and his wife Edna, left his parents, former wife Liz-Rae and two children Neil and Elan. Gerrit was a former Kimberley City Councillor and had his own business, Pyramid Warehousing as well as running the Kimberley branch of his father’s auction house.

Arrie Taljaard was survived by his parents, two sisters and three brothers.


Cyril Robinson

Charles Dippenaar, a Constable with the police, left his parents Dries and Liena, and sisters Carol and Leola.

Captain Peter Slater was also with the police. He was survived by his wife, two sons, and his parents.

Pictured are the Beechcraft Baron that crashed, Cyril Robinson and Gerrit Bezuidenhout.

UPDATED: 26/07/2019

26 July 1996, Five men die when plane crashes at the Prison grounds.
26 July 2000, Brian Hermanus, pictured, world-rated swimmer from the apartheid years, killed in car accident. He was the MEC for Sport Arts and Culture.


Northern Cape Minister of Arts, Sports and Culture Brian Hermanus and his private secretary, Mervin Erlank, were killed in a road accident on Wednesday afternoon, 26 July 2000. Hermanus, 44, and Erlank, 36, were killed instantly, while the minister’s bodyguard, Norman Zenzile Job, had minor injuries.

Brian Hermanus

The accident happened on a gravel road between Britstown and Vosburg. Police spokesperson Rita Crafford said that Job received medical treatment at the Britstown clinic and was discharged.

The deaths of the two men sent shockwaves through the provincial administration and the province. The then Northern Cape Premier Manne Dipico, who had just returned from Belgium, and his cabinet expressed their condolences to the Hermanus and Erlank families.

Spokesperson for the Hermanus family, Bradley Swartland, said the minister was on his way to Calvinia to make preparations for a hearing on racism in sport. He said Hermanus was travelling in a rented 4 x 4 vehicle when the accident happened. According to Swartland, Hermanus was driving the vehicle when it overturned.

Brian Hermanus

He was survived by his wife, Lynn, and daughters Anita and Samantha.

Erlank was survived by his wife, Olga, five-year-old daughter Maxine, and one-year-old son Aiden.

Brian Hermanus was a great sportsman, and a family man. Brian displayed his versatility and was ranked amongst the country’s best ten swimmers irrespective of colour during the trying times of apartheid.

In 1972 Brian together with Shreef Abass, both from Kimberley, were selected amongst the top five swimmers in the country for further training in London where he equalled the 100m record of the World and Olympic champion David Wilkie. Brian would probably have broken the world record or been chosen for the Olympic Games had it not been for the restrictive apartheid laws. His times would certainly have seen him contest the finals at the Olympics.

He also displayed excellence in soccer, rugby, tennis, table tennis and athletics at school and Provincial level. Apart from his involvement in sport and as an MEC Brian was determined to see every child take part in sport as he believed that a “Child in Sport is a Child out of Court”.

Brian, who grew up in Florianville, had the Floors/Colville swimming pool named in his honour.

It is believed that he was a founding member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the United Democratic Front (UDF).

(From various sources).

From Kimberley Calls and Recalls on Facebook By Steve Lunderstedt

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About Steve Lunderstedt


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