Retreat couple Barry and Heidi Volkwijn passed away on Saturday, leaving behind their only child, Amy.
The teen is currently in isolation after she also tested positive for Covid-19.
Heidi was a well-known face in the community, working for the League of Friends of the Blind (LOFOB) for the past 26 years. Barry, 48, was a driver for the Department of Health.
Heidi was blind and started out as a Skills Developer at LOFOB, rapidly progressing to being their public relations officer.
Her last position was manager of the Youth and Adult Services at LOFOB.
Heidi and Barry celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary on Friday, a day before they died.
Barry was admitted to Mediclinic Constantiaberg on 10 June and Heidi two days later.
The couple had trouble breathing and were put on oxygen, and eventually ventilators and an induced coma to assist with their recovery.
However, Barry died in the early hours of Saturday morning and Heidi that afternoon.
Heidi’s bereaved sister Berenice Sias says their passing is a big loss to their families and the communities they served.
She says the couple had tested positive for Covid-19 on 9 June.
“That weekend of 5 June, they were both sick and went to get tested,” she explains.
“They had fever and flu-like symptoms and their daughter Amy also tested positive. Amy still has a cough now so she remains in isolation.”
She says Heidi was a brave woman who did not let her disability hold her back.
“My sister went blind when she was 17 years old, due to muscular degeneration and that’s when she joined LOFOB.
“Words fail to say how sad and broken we feel because God called them both home on the same day.”
Berenice adds: “This disease is a killer, physically and emotionally, and people who have never experienced living with a positive case wouldn’t understand how traumatic this is. You can’t even hug your family member.”
Dr. Armand Bam, the Executive Director at LOFOB, says: “Heidi always had a soft spot for the youth, her lived experience of being blind along with her ability to empathise allowed her to share her personal journey as motivation for newly blind clients. She personified the excellence we hope all our clients could achieve and will be sorely missed by her clients and colleagues alike.
“A giant in the disability sector has fallen.”