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Charlie was a legend: Tributes pour in for victim of Northdene home shooting

Described as a "true legend" who would give the last thing he owned to someone in need, Charles van Heerden will be missed, but never forgotten.

CHARLIE van Heerden was the type of man who gave to everyone around him. It was his nature.

“He would give the shirt off his back to someone who was in need,” said his wife, Hettie.

These words are echoed by all who the Queensburgh News has spoken to about him.

Michael Bell, who led the memorial cycle ride on the beachfront on Saturday morning, said the same thing. “Charlie was such a gentleman, a true gentle, man, who wouldn’t ever harm anyone and would give whatever he could to anyone in need.”



The generous nature of the man who died last week, following what has been described as a “botched home invasion” by four men at his Northdene home, is what really makes his death as a result of the crime so hard to swallow for anyone who knew him.

“That a man should lose his life and a family be so traumatised over a cellphone is truly tragic,” said Bell.

Bell described the death of Charlie as being completely, “senseless and so unnecessary!”

Charlie died on Friday, 31 January in hospital after having undergone three surgeries following his shooting at home on the evening of Tuesday, 28 January.

ALSO READ: Northdene’s Hunter recovering well

During the attempted home invasion, both Charlie and his five-year-old pit-bull terrier, Hunter, sustained gunshot wounds.

Hunter has since returned home from the veterinary hospital where he had received treatment after the incident.

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Crowdfunding campaign launched for heroic Northdene pitbull’s vet bills

“Yesterday we heard at the funeral that there are 58 people a day killed in crime. It was so silly. They took his cellphone and left a laptop behind which was there on the table, it defies belief,” said Bell.

Charlie is survived by a large family including four grown-up children and nine grandchildren, some of whom traveled half way around the world to be with their mum, grandmother, siblings and cousins last week when the service for Charlie was held at St Cyprians Church in Umbilo Road, on Friday morning.

“He adored his family and they all adored him,” said Hettie van Heerden, Charlies widow.

“He was a healthy and fit person, so full of life, and love and energy. His death has left us all shocked and reeling.”


Memorial ride

Bell said he was delighted at the number of people who had arrived to celebrate the life of Charlie. “It is incredible that so many people have turned up, to celebrate the memory of Charles,” said the visibly emotional man.

Bell, who had been a long-time friend of Charlie and considered him a mentor said he had first got to know Charlie through karate.

“He was a true gentleman. I met him when I started karate when I was 13-years-old. He was like a brother, best friend and father all rolled into one.”

“I had no idea how many people would arrive, this has been a phenomenal turnout. The church yesterday was packed, there wasn’t space for anyone else to even stand. He was such a healthy and sporting man, known as one of the best seconders for the Duzi marathon, he had run Comrades, the TwoOoceans, and had his provincial colours for cycling in his age group,” said Bell.


True legend

Saturday morning saw dozens of cyclists of all ages come together for a ride to remember Charlie.

“We celebrate a true legend this morning,” said Leonard Arjunun, who said a few words and led the group in prayer as well as presenting Hettie with some flowers before the ride began.

“When you are good to others you are best to yourself, just remember the things you do for others remain as a legacy once you have gone.”

“There is a saying that goes, forget your own unhappiness by creating a little happiness for others,” said Arjunun who added that although he didn’t know Charlie very well he was used to seeing him on rides.

“We passed him often on the road whilst cycling. He was always cheerful and would greet us. He was always seen assisting younger new riders,” he said.

Arjunun said Chalies’ legacy was well seen in the family he raised.

“I must add that he raised a Legend in Deno who is now a SA Champ in cycling,” he said.

“It was great to see the cycling community from various clubs show respect to a great man.


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