Friday, May 27, 2011
It's with great sadness, and a huge amount of shock, that this post is to inform you of the untimely passing of young Kobus Engelbrecht, who was paralysed playing rugby at school in 2007. A few hours ago, he was murdered in his home.
Those of you who have been visiting Rugbydump since the beginning will no doubt remember the story of Kobus getting injured . He was 17 at the time, and playing fullback for his high school rugby team when he was tackled low, then hit high and hard by the opposition number eight. From that moment forth, he has been a quadriplegic, as the C5&6 vertebra were damaged.
The story was posted here, and great support was shown from the international community. Since then, he's been an important part of the Rugbydump ethos, and it was just a few months ago that I was privileged enough to spend a few hours with this inspirational young man, who fought so hard to get his life back to anything that resembled normality.
His family converted their downstairs room into his bedroom, and his mom, a lovely, gentle lady, was there to support him 24/7. We joked that he had somewhat of a bachelor pad actually, as his new bedroom was fairly large, including a pool table, TV screen, and a mini fridge.
Life was anything but normal for Kobus though, who was paralysed from the waist down and had limited movement in his fingers. He spoke openly later about how when I shook his hand, he could tell I noticed that it wasn't a manly shake. I had to disagree though, as what he had been through, and how he dealt with it all, made him one of the manliest people I know.
I was genuinely touched and taken back by his spirit. Many people go through horrible ordeals in life, but how they deal with it is what sets some apart. When I left his place I felt honoured to have met him, and determined to help his cause in some way. We had spoken about various ways in which we could do so, not only for himself, but for others in the same situation.
Kobus wanted to help, and to educate those who perhaps at times don't know how to react to, or treat, those in wheelchairs, or just those who need care. We had planned to meet again, and I'd told him we'll make sure that RD Cares, a small initiative which is yet to kick fully into gear, becomes something he can be more involved in. He was excited, and despite studying to eventually be a chartered accountant, offered to give his time and told me that I could give him a call if ever I wanted to discuss anything.
I can tell you that Kobus was touched by those of you who left comments on the original post when he first got injured. He was a gentle soul who had been humbled by what he'd been through, but had a smile that could light up a room, and an enthusiasm about him that was infectious. In truth, I could write for hours about my short meeting with this fantastic guy.
On Tuesday of this week, he posted a comment on his Facebook page that said he was getting a car on Saturday, modified for him to be able to drive it, but he was very excited. " Then it's me and the open road! " he said.
Earlier today though, four years after his terrible injury, he was murdered in his home.
His mother was also murdered. It's been reported that they were both strangled in their beds, and his father attempted suicide, but survived. He has since been taken into police custody, and will appear in court on Monday. If and when more details emerge, this post will be updated to reflect them.
For now, all we can say is that it's a horrific story and one that we can't quite comprehend.
If it's indeed true that Rugby is the game played in heaven, you can be sure Kobus will be playing his heart out. Rest in peace my friend.