Joost Van der Westhuizen had been accorded a special provincial official funeral‚ with flags in Gauteng flown at half mast on Friday.The former Springbok rugby star died on Monday aged 45 following a long battle with motor neuron disease (MND).“For Joost is not only the golden boy of Loftus Versfeld‚ he is a national star and international sport icon in the league of George Gregan of Australia‚ Jonah Lomu and Dan Carter of New Zealand‚” Mbalula the sports minister said in his address at the memorial at Loftus Versfeld.
“We speak of him in these glowing terms because we believe his undying spirit will live on for many years to come‚ inspiring future generations of this rugby and sports-living nation‚” he said.
“The Gauteng government and national government have been commanded by the President of the Republic of South Africa to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Van der Westhuizen family‚ to the Blue Bulls and Springbok fans.“We are here to comfort the family and to demonstrate our support to the local rugby fraternity and show solidarity to the world of rugby on behalf of the people of South Africa on this solemn occasion. ”Mbalula added that the Springbok team who won the 1995 World Cup were inspirational and motivational to John Smit and his generation‚ fortifying their resolve to win the tournament in 2007.“It is during the period 1993 to 2003 that Joost mesmerised visiting teams at Loftus‚ on tour and in the domestic championships‚ leaving fans and foes believing in the invincibility of the Blue Bulls‚” Mbalula said.“Joost Van der Westhuizen was a household name in the then-Northern Transvaal Province and played a pivotal role in bringing two Currie Cup trophies home.”Mbalula said Van der Westhuizen’s contribution to the game of rugby was enormous.
“The presence of esteemed government representatives from New Zealand‚ England and other parts of the world is testimony to the indelible mark he leaves behind and acknowledgement of his enormous contribution to the world of rugby.
“It is on this ever-green grass where the heart of Joost Van der Westhuizen lies dreaming‚ under the skies of the Jacaranda City‚ where birds are singing a song of the mountains‚ to which we have been summoned by the soul of this doyen of South African rugby.“