Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Compiled by Jacques van der Westhuyzen

Head of Sport

‘Dark depths’ — Wife of Hannes Strydom reveals troubled life of former Bok star

“Yes, Hannes made many mistakes in his life, but who are we to judge?”

World Cup-winning lock Hannes Strydom enjoyed many highs but also lows in his life, according to his wife Nikolie, who spoke about a troubled man at his memorial service in Pretoria on Wednesday.

Strydom died in a motor vehicle accident in Mpumalanga last Sunday night. He was 58. One other person also passed away in the accident and several others were injured. It is understood Strydom drove into the back of a taxi on the highway close to Witbank.

Strydom was best-known for being a member of the Springbok 1995 Rugby World Cup-winning team that beat the All Blacks in the final at Ellis Park in June of that year. In total he played 21 Tests between 1993 and 1997.

Caught in a nightmare

After rugby Strydom launched a successful chain of pharmacies, Pharm-Valu, but more recently he was in the news following claims he was selling prescription-only codeine over the counter at his pharmacy outlets. According to weekend publication Rapport, Strydom also lived something of a double life that included a slew of lovers and drug use.

According to Netwerk24, Nikolie said Strydom had in the last four years been caught in a nightmare that just wouldn’t go away.

“It was hard to see what he was going through, especially in the last while. But we were powerless. We couldn’t help him,” said Nikolie about her husband.

She added Strydom “reached great heights in his life, but also dark depths.”

“The devil literally came to steal Hannes away from us in 2019. But I can assure you the devil wasn’t able to steal away my and the children’s love for Hannes. We continued to support him and encourage him and also berated him. He would get angry with us, but we always showed our love towards him.”

Nikolie continued: “Many people didn’t understand our relationship. I didn’t love the circumstances around Hannes, but I always loved him.”

Difficult 2023

According to Nikolie, this last year was a particularly difficult one, including tearing muscles in his leg and hurting his knee that required him to undergo four surgeries.

She said Strydom had recently had an emotional breakdown and wanted to change his ways. A meeting with their church minister had helped him to get onto the right path again.

While Nikolie said losing Strydom is a great loss, there is also relief as he is now in the right place, free of all the things in the world. “We now have peace.”

‘One of the heroes of our local game’

President of SA Rugby Mark Alexander described Strydom as “one of the great locks of his generation” and “one of the heroes of our local game”.

“He was a hard-working lock who never shied away from getting stuck in and doing the dirty work.

“To lose yet another member of the iconic Bok squad from 1995 is a heavy blow to the rugby fraternity here in South Africa and our thoughts and condolences are with his wife, Nikolie, their children, Annalie, Hannes and Lucy, family and friends in this very difficult time,” Alexander said in the hours after Hannes’ passing.

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