UPDATE | SA author dies of coronavirus in Gauteng

The first Covid-19 casualty in Gauteng has been identified as Louis Wilsenach, a well-known marketing guru.

Wilsenach, who grew up doing missionary work, owned what he described as “one of the biggest advertising agencies”, according to an interview with Jannie Pelser.

News24 sister publication Netwerk24 reported that Wilsenach was the brains behind advertisements for products like NikNaks, Simba and Ouma biscuits.

Wilsenach was also a poet, artist and writer.

He penned the Afrikaans book, Aha! Die fenomeen, in which he wrote inspirational stories about famous people. It included the testimonies of 25 people, including Herman Mashaba, Deon Myer and Francois Pienaar.

“Where you are is where God wants you to be”, he told Pelser, adding that the book, which he wanted to have translated to English, came about as God changed his life through “aha moments”.

Heartfelt messages

In a string of heartfelt messages on social media, those closest to him left touching messages for the 79-year-old, including friends and family.

Wilsenach died at a private hospital in Mogale City, Johannesburg, on Monday after he was admitted on Saturday following a positive test for Covid-19.

On Saturday morning, his daughter, Mia Ziervogel, took to Facebook to let people know her father had tested positive.

Later on Saturday evening, she posted a second update.

“It has been surreal – please keep my dad, Louis Wilsenach, in your prayers. We are in isolation and I appreciate my friendship with you all so much – thank you for the messages and please keep safe.”

‘Stay safe and stay at home’

On Sunday morning, Ziervogel expressed her frustration of not being able to physically check on her father.

“The nightmare about this is not being able to go see my dad – or talk to him – stay safe and stay at home.”

On Monday afternoon, she posted a statement saying her father had died.

“It is with great sadness that I have to let you know my father, Louis Wilsenach, has passed away.”

Later in the evening when President Cyril Ramaphosa updated the
nation about the 21-day lockdown as well as the death toll, Ziervogel
again took to Facecbook saying she is “shattered” and will pay tribute
to her father on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, shortly after Health
Minister Zweli Mkhize gave more details about the five people who had
died after contracting the virus, Ziervogel said on her Facebook account
her father’s death was “a big gift of showing us that staying home is

Gauteng has recorded 633 coronavirus cases out of 1 353 people infected nationally.

Watch Wilsenach’s interview in Afrikaans with Jannie Pelser:

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