/SANParks mourns staffer found dead a year after wife died in Southern Cape fires

SANParks mourns staffer found dead a year after wife died in Southern Cape fires

A SANParks chainsaw operator was found dead at his home on Tuesday, almost a year after his wife died from burn wounds sustained in a devastating fire in Farleigh and Beervlei in the Southern Cape.

“[SANParks] is mourning the sudden death of one of its own, Hendrik Davidson,” said regional spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba.

Park manager for the Wilderness section of the Garden Route National Park, Sandra Taljaard, said they were saddened by the tragic loss of “Beetle” – Davidson’s nickname.

“His body was found by his colleagues at his home in the staff village in Beervlei this morning,” she said.

SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni conveyed his condolences to the Davidson family and the community in Beervlei, and said counselling sessions were underway to support his family and colleagues.

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SANParks stated that the police had been called to the scene to investigate the circumstances around his death.

Taljaard said: “We have not only lost one of the best chainsaw operators in Beervlei, but a brother, an uncle, a father and a supportive friend to many.”

Details of his funeral will be announced by SANParks.

Davidson, who was based in Beervlei, had to cope with the death of his wife Sandra last year. She died a few weeks after she was seriously injured in the Farleigh/Beervlei fires in October, which had already left nine people dead in the Wilderness area north of George.

Thirteen staff houses were burnt down in a settlement called Rooikraal and five staff houses in another settlement at Beervlei on October 29.

In total, 75 people were rendered homeless as a result of the fire which blew at over 100km/h at times.

The people who died were: Elsabe Florina Windvogel and Lesley Andra Bewee; and six children – Eljade Jaylene Windvogel, Ethan Calin-Lee Windvogel, Aliyah Simone Sime-Leandre Oelf, Nalaya Nashay Oelf, Niah Na-Lee Oelf and Nalani Brienne Oelf; as well as an unborn baby who was to be named Andrea Oelf.

Sandra had initially survived the severe burns, after the fire swept through the Beervlei SANParks staff village. 

She was transferred from the George Hospital to Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town to receive further emergency care, but died on December 3, 2018.