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Pictured above: A Cape Town family was involved in a serious car accident in Johannesburg 

On the 28th of December 2021, Gerhard van Niekerk (29), his fiancé Madelein van Zyl (27), and their two sons, Gregory (4) and Luke (8 weeks), were involved in a devastating car accident while on holiday in Johannesburg over the festive season.

Driving on the N12 at about 5:30 pm, the family was allegedly hit by another motorist on the rear left side of their Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Moments later, Gerhard lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a hill. 


Pictured above: A devastating car crash has changed this family’s life forever


While Gerhard and Gregory suffered minor injuries from the crash, Madelein suffered multiple serious injuries, as most of the impact was on the passenger side, where she was sitting. 

Doctors initially reported injuries to Madelein’s leg, shoulder, nose, cheekbone, and ribs – after further scans and x-rays the doctors concluded that she had broken her elbow, ankle and her C2 and C3 neck vertebrae as well.

Tragically, baby Luke was declared brain dead and lost his life at 11pm that evening, leaving a sizable void in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.


Pictured above: 8 week old baby Luke was declared brain dead after the accident and later passed away


Helping the family heal

As the family fights bravely through their hurt and heartache, Bianca Weygandt (31) a family friend, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy, to support the van Niekerk’s with their mounting medical bills, as they don’t have medical aid.

Since leaving ICU, Madelein’s elbow has been operated on, and a procedure on her ankle might need to be performed.

As the injury to her neck is known as a ‘stable break’, fortunately, no operation is required. Her nose, cheekbone, and ribs will also heal with time, doctors say.

Pictured above: Before the accident: Madelein, Gerhard and their son Gregory


Since the launch of the campaign, over R43 000 has been raised on BackaBuddy to support the family through this difficult time, with contributions from 107 donors both locally and abroad.

Additional funds raised will be used to cover the costs of Luke’s funeral, and the physical, emotional, and psychological treatment they will need to heal from their life-changing ordeal.

“We as a family would like to thank each and every person for their prayers, support, donations, and sharing our story! I would like to urge everyone, spend time with your loved ones, tell them you love them – time is precious – it cannot be replaced and memories are all we have in the end. I had a very special bond with my boy, Luke, in the short time God lent him to us, we loved him so much! We will miss him – every day. Also, drive safely and be alert on the roads – our life was changed in an instant” – says Gerhard.

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An Update from Gerhard

“We arrived back in Gordon’s Bay on the 14th of January 2022, Luke has been cremated and his ashes are now with us, as soon as we are ready we will arrange a memorial service for our precious baby boy.

Madelein must still have the operation done on her ankle and we had an appointment on 27th of January to see the doctors at Helderberg Hospital, we had some good news which brings us a lot of relief, Madelein might not need an operation on her ankle, the doctors are happy with how the bones are mending.

But, we do not have medical aid and the costs thus far have been adding up, the BackaBuddy campaign will go a long way to helping us cover the medical costs in Gauteng and all other revolving costs such as physiotherapy for Madelein and as a family we feel it best if we see a psychologist to help us emotionally process what has happened.

The costs thus far for the admittance to Netcare, one night’s stay in the ICU at Netcare, X-Rays and CT scans for both Madelein and Luke amount to about R62 000, this does not include the specialists and doctors that saw us or the operation done on Madelein’s arm at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

At this stage it is hard to give an exact amount because we are waiting on invoices from the doctors, specialists and hospitals but we estimate the total cost to be around R150 000. Madelein’s other injuries are recovering very well and under the circumstances we are doing okay.” – says Gerhard


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South Africa’s leading crowdfunding platform, BackaBuddy has supported more than 10 000+ individuals and charities in setting up fundraising campaigns for medical fees, tuition and various causes in South Africa. The platform has thus far risen over R290 Million.