Burry Stander death: South African taxi driver in court

Burry Stander on his bike (12 August 2012) Burry Stander competed in the London and Beijing Olympics

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A minibus taxi driver has appeared in court in South Africa over the death of Olympian cyclist Burry Stander in a road accident on Thursday.

Njabulo Nyawose, 24, was released while police continue with investigations into Stander's death.

Memorial bike rides have been held around South Africa for the 25-year-old mountain bike rider.

His death has renewed calls to improve road safety in a country with a notoriously high accident rate.

More than 1,300 people, mostly vehicle drivers and passengers, have died on South Africa's roads during the festive season, official statistics show.

Stander was allegedly knocked down by Mr Nwayose's taxi while on a training ride in Shelly Beach in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Start Quote

There will never be another Burry Stander. We have lost a hero”

End Quote Fikile Mbalula Sports Minister

After Stander's death, Cycling South Africa head William Nieman told the BBC that cyclists were in constant danger.

"Many people fear being on the road. The fear does not bode well for the development of the sport," he said.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson said Mr Nyawose faced a charge of culpable homicide or an alternative charge of reckless and negligent driving, the South African Press Association (Sapa) reports.

He was ordered to appear in court on 22 March.

South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula visited Stander's family on Sunday to offer his condolences.

Bike rides to pay tribute to Stander have been held in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town since his death.

"There will never be another Burry Stander. We have lost a hero, a great South African and an athlete… someone who has given it his all when it comes to sport," Mr Mbalula is quoted by Sapa as saying.

"He is not only a loss to the family but a loss to the nation."

Stander was a two-time Olympian, competing in Beijing in 2008 and in London last year where he finished fifth in the mountain bike race.

He was ranked second in the sport internationally.

South African mountain bike stage race organiser Kevin Vermaak said the government needed to do more to protect cyclists on roads.

"We need legislation that clearly states that a vehicle may not overtake a cyclist unless the vehicle could create a space of about 1.5 metres between the cyclist and the vehicle," he said.

Despite the dangers of riding on roads, the sport is growing in South Africa, Mr Vermaak added.

Ten years ago, there was one mountain bike stage race in South Africa while there were more than 50 in 2012.

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