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AWS man dies doing what he loved

The Helderberg community mourns the loss of a beloved resident and animal lover.

The life of Pieter Prinsloo (46) was claimed in a tragic accident on the N2 last Thursday (23 August). He was hit by a car while helping cattle across the highway near Firlands.

According to police, the incident occurred shortly after 19:00 on Thursday evening.

A case of culpable homicide is being investigated.

The driver, a 35-year-old man, was arrested for driving under the influence. He is expected to appear in the Strand Magistrate’s Court on 30 January next year, when the results of his blood alcohol tests will be known.

Prinsloo was an animal inspector at the Animal Welfare Society (AWS) Helderberg, and had been with the non-profit organisation since December 2010.

According to AWS manager Julia Evans, Prinsloo was passionate about his work and was officially still “in the field” at the time of his death.

“He dealt with complaints of abuse, collected stray and sick animals, rescued all sorts of creatures in need,” she said. “He was on after-hours duty every second week and weekend, and would often cover areas not in the Helderberg, if another organisation was not responding. He followed up on cases of cruelty and neglect, and spent too much time in magistrates’ courts attempting to obtain justice for animals in need.”

Evans described Prinsloo as a man with an excellent work ethic, strong in character.

“He had firm beliefs,” she said. “He was passionate about his daughter, above all other things. He never refused to assist in a difficult situations and very often was called on by other welfare organisations to help them out. He was known to go out of his way to assist owners of animals who had no money, and he did his best to educate them in better animal keeping, before he would go the route of confiscation.”

Evans shared one of her fondest memories of her beloved colleague – rescuing a kitten stuck between the walls at Truworths Somerset West. This priceless moment was captured in a photo taken of him under the lingerie shelves, reaching and listening to where the cat was in the wall.

“Another memory is of him chasing after stray pigs!” Evans added. “My mind is a kaleidoscope of images.”

In a tribute to the fallen animal hero posted on the community organisation’s Facebook page, Evans referred to him as “a man who was always on duty. He left home early each morning and would be called out for after hour emergencies late at night. No crisis was to big for him. In my mind’s eye, images of Pieter over the years roll past. Rescuing injured animals, chasing down difficult strays, working with the fire brigades and various security companies to get cats out of trees, breaking up dog fights, wading out to sea to retrieve dogs stranded on banks.”

According to Evans, AWS staff said their final goodbyes during a visit to the scene the morning after the incident, where they laid down flowers.

She said: “While the loss is indeed one for welfare, it is far greater for his family and his daughter. I am, to put it mildly, infuriated by the lack of control and carelessness of owners, regarding the cattle and livestock that are allowed to roam ‘willy-nilly’ across highways. Pieter was literally bringing in injured livestock each week, which had been hit by vehicles and left to die on the side of the road.”

In a special message to the bereaved family, Evans said: “I cannot begin to put in words how they must feel and on behalf of our committee, the staff, the volunteers and myself, wish them strength and blessings through this difficult time.”

She added that Prinsloo will be remembered as a passionate, dedicated man and loving father.

DistrictMail contacted Prinsloo’s mother, who described her son as a soft, gentle and loving person.

His brother Riaan, a police warrant officer, said the family is coping with the tragic loss in their own way and has made peace with the reality.

“God has a plan,” he said.

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