Tributes have begun pouring in after the death of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden’s internationally-renowned curator, Philip Le Roux. He was an avid cyclist, and was severely injured in a cycling accident on 2 December.
Le Roux was cycling to Hout Bay when a robot turned red, leaving him with no time to stop – this resulted in him crashing into a car. He suffered a punctured lung, facial injuries and broken ribs as a result. The injuries were so severe that Le Roux slipped into a coma and passed away quietly on Wednesday morning.
The area of the Hout Bay which the accident occurred in is called Suiker Bossie, and is known as a hotspot for cycling accidents. As cyclists have to bike downhill, and drivers may not always see them coming down the road at high speeds, accidents of this sort are frequent in the area because of this.
Le Roux has been the Gardens’ curator since 1987, and in an interview with UK publication, The Independent, said he knew this was the path he wanted to pursue. “I was 16 or 17 when I identified a career in this field. I went to Sarsfeld Forestry College but became disillusioned with commercial forestry,” he said.
He spent eight years studying horticulture, parks and forestry, and was given the opportunity to become Curator.
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Le Roux was also the one who gave the go-ahead for a cycling trail to be cut through the park, as he was a cyclist himself and wanted others to enjoy its beauty as well.
“It is not just gardening that is of great interest to me,” he said. “What inspires me is the great love of the garden held by the people of Cape Town. They are very attached to it. To work for an organisation which people respect means more than the salary you take home. That enhances the job satisfaction hugely.”
Le Roux leaves a wife and son behind, and will be sorely missed.
— PPA Stay Wider (@safecyclists) December 12, 2018
— TableMountainBikers (@TableMTB) December 12, 2018
A case of culpable homicide has also been registered and is currently under investigation, but no arrests have yet been made.