MESSAGES of condolences continue to pour in (locally and internationally) for one of South Africa’s rugby legend and best sportsmen ever to live Jooste van der Weisthuizen.
The ‘blue-eyed’ Jooste succumbed to death following 7 years’ of painstakingly dealing with the deadly disease Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
The 45 year old represented Bokke 89 times scoring an astonishing 38 tries, a record that wing Bryan Habana only recently surpassed.
His defining contribution came in the 1995 World Cup final against New Zealand in shackling the previously unstoppable All Black wing Jonah Lomu in South Africa’s 15-12 victory. From then on the late Lomu and Westhuizen became best buddies.
“We are saddened by the passing of Joost van der Westhuizen and wish to express our deepest condolences to the van der Westhuizen family. We will always remember him for his passion for life and determination to succeed”, says Bestmed Medical Scheme CEO, Dries La Grange.
First he asked “why me” then he asked “why not me” instead of giving into the disease, he formed the J9 foundation with the number 9 becoming a symbol of hope to all those suffering with Motor Neuron Disease (MND).
Bestmed is proud to have had the opportunity to partner with J9 Foundation to help raise funds in aid of building a research centre. The aim of the centre is to teach people about the disease who will then support efforts across the globe to find a cure or cause.
La Grange continues to encourage the private healthcare sector to take a stand and to work towards understanding the causes of rare diseases such as MND.
MND is a very rare condition that affects the nervous system, which affects one person in every 50,000 each year.
“We believe that his life is an example of courage and bravery, his legacy will remain in our hearts”, said La Grange, whose company is one of ardent supporters of the J9 Foundation.
MEC for sport & recreation in Gauteng Faith Mazibuko also sent her messages of condolences.
“It’s deeply saddening to have lost such a great warrior as Joost who was supposed to be enjoying his legendary status after hard work and contribution to sport and the sport of rugby. He has had a successful rugby career and was part of flying South Africa’s flag high by winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup, an achievement that made a huge contribution to uniting the country.
“We as the Gauteng government and the department of Sport are happy to have honoured him with the Gauteng Sport Award’s Lifetime Achievement Award. His love for sport, unity and winning was there for all to see even as he was gravely ill.
“He will be remembered for his fighting spirit and charm while wearing the green and gold for Springboks and the blue jersey for Blue Bulls. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, kids and the entire van der Westhuizen and rugby families.”
“The passing of Joost is a sad chapter in South African sporting history”, says minister of sport Fikile Mbalula.
His contribution to our national rugby team was immense. He leaves behind a generation of athletes who aspire for his legendary sportsmanship. We draw lessons from his fighting spirit in both the field playing for our national team and against motor neuron disease. South Africa is poorer without this great giant and warrior of South African rugby. I send my sincere condolences to his family, his friends and to the entire sport fraternity.”
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a progressive neurological condition that attacks the motor neurones or nerves, in the brain and spinal cord. This means messages gradually stop reaching the muscles, which leads to weakness and wasting. MND can affect how you walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.
The businessman from Pretoria lives behind two kids. He was separated from the famous singer Amor Vittone.
December 21, 2002 – married
2006 – the much-talked about sex video is filmed
February 14, 2009 – Sunday newspaper Rapport for the first time makes mention of the video
February 16, 2009 – Heat magazine breaks the story of Joost and drug scandal
November 1, 2009 – Joost for the first time admits, in his biography, that he is the man in the video
November 2, 2009 – SuperSport fires Joost
May 22, 2010 – Joost and Amor split up
August 5, 2010 – Joost issues summons against Amor for divorce – Pretoria News.
Jooste’s memorial service will be held at Loftus Stadium, Pretoria this Friday 10.