A sombre farewell for rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen was replaced with celebrations of his life’s accomplishments and career in rugby, reports the Pretoria East Rekord.
During Van Der Westhuizen’s private funeral service at Lewende Woord Church in Brummeria, Pretoria, on Friday morning, Pieter van der Westhuizen, Joost’s brother, said the family was proud of what Joost had achieved during his life.
Watch the full memorial service below
Joost was diagnosed with motor neuron disease seven years ago. Doctors predicted he would only be able to live for two years with the deadly disease. But against all odds, the rugby captain defied the diagnoses and fought bravely for seven years.
Pieter said the seven-year journey was extremely difficult for Joost’s family to see how the former highly-esteemed Springbok player became trapped in his own body.
In later years, Joost became an invalid and was wheelchair-bound although he still attended many events.
According to Pieter, the love of Joost’s life was his two children Jordan and Kylie. Although unable to move properly, he was determined to take them to school and attend their extra-curriculum activities.
Amor Vittone, former wife, attended the memorial service with a leg brace and crutches after breaking her ankle a couple of weeks ago at Bounce Fourways.
An emotional Gustav, brother of Joost, closed the service on Friday and thanked everyone who attended.
Other guests included Alistair Coetzee, Jake White, Bryan Habanna, Victor Matfield, Wynie Strydom, Tiaan Schoeman and other personalities. His former wife, Marlene, also attended the funeral and was thanked by family and friends for her attendance.
A great contingent of media houses and television stations attended the funeral on Friday.
The Tshwane metro police and SAPS escorted Joost’s procession to Loftus Versfeld, where nearly 15 000 mourners gathered to show their last respects for the rugby legend.
Various speakers will be addressing the crowd until late this afternoon.
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– Caxton News Service