Mass ride for slain biker

Zelda van Niekerk, 45, was killed during a robbery on the N1 highway on Friday afternoon.

Hundreds of bikers are expected to ride to Killarney Raceway this Saturday for the funeral of one of their own, slain by a robber’s bullet on the side of the N1 highway.

Three men attacked Zelda van Niekerk, 45, under the N7 railway bridge opposite Century City at about 1.30pm on Friday, say police.

She was shot in the stomach.

Ms Van Niekerk had been parked at the roadside for only a few minutes, waiting for another biker. She had been riding to Fish Hoek to escort a friend’s son to his matric ball, said friend and fellow biker Linlee Solms.

“In that three minutes, she was murdered,” said Ms Solms.

Ms Van Niekerk ran a screen-printing business and had moved to Table View from Edgemead a month ago, shortly after losing her partner, Anita, to cancer.

She is survived by her six-year-old son.

She ran a volunteer group, Bikers With A Cause, that helped cancer support groups, animal shelters, children’s homes and old-age homes, to name a few.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the three men who attacked the biker had fled on foot

Just hours after the shooting, Metro police, acting on a tip-off about an illegal firearm, arrested Lucien Ackerman, 33, at a house in Kensington.

Metro police spokeswoman Sergeant Ruth Solomons said officers searching the house had found a fully loaded .38 Special revolver on top of a wardrobe and 10 live rounds.

They had also found Ms Van Niekerk’s bank cards and ID.

Mr Ackerman appeared in Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on Monday on charges of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He asked for a Legal Aid lawyer and said he would not be applying for bail. He was remanded in custody and the case was postponed to Friday November 23.

Captain Van Wyk said two other suspects were still at large.

About 60 bikers gathered outside the court in solidarity.

Fellow biker and friend of Ms Van Niekerk’s, Jaco Wessels, said they weren’t just there for her but for all victims of crime.

“We are outraged at Zelda’s death, but Zelda is not the exception. The sadness lies in the fact that Zelda is just another statistic.

“The fact that she is a woman and the heinous, callous way in which she was killed brought attention to her case, but Zelda is just another South African like the rest of us. We need to protect everybody.”

The Metro police deserved credit, he said, for apprehending a suspect, but it had been an “accidental arrest” made while looking for an illegal firearm.

“Only in that process, did they discover he had Zelda’s bank cards and ID in his possession,” he said.

Ms Solms said Ms Van Niekerk, whom she had met three years’ ago, had been a soft-spoken, soft-hearted person.

“When I met her, she looked like a bad ass, and I thought here comes trouble, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. She had such a soft heart. She handled difficult situations with such grace.”

Retha Loock, who is planning Ms Van Niekerk’s funeral, said bikers would meet at Pick * Pay Hypermarket, in Brackenfell, on Saturday for the mass ride to Killarney Raceway. Other details, including the time of the service, were still being finalised at the time of going to print.