Johannesburg - The father of Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies died in a “freak incident” when he was stung by a bee on Saturday.
Tributes poured in on Sunday for Thomas Jantjies, who is said to have been a major influence in his two sons’ careers, after he died as a result of a bee sting to the head.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Elton’s agent, James Adams, said the death was a freak incident as he did not believe Thomas was allergic to bees.
A chief warrant officer in the military, Thomas died at 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria around 5pm, about an hour after he was stung.
His wife Alma and his two sons are said to be devastated by his death.
“He was a passionate rugby man, supporter and coach, and loved his time working with his sons on the field doing extra training sessions,” said Adams.
Elton, who made his Springbok test debut in September last year, and his brother Tony took to Twitter on Sunday to pay tribute to their father.
“God has come to fetch another Angel. RIP Dad. You will remain in our hearts forever,” said Elton.
His younger brother Tony, a Baby Bok and Blue Bulls flyhalf, thanked people for their support.
“Words can’t describe what your support means to us during this sad time. Thank you all. RIP Dad, you will be dearly missed,” he said.
Adams said no funeral plans had been made, but a memorial service would take place in Pretoria on Wednesday, followed by a family gathering in Middelburg.
“All that had the privilege of meeting him, especially those in rugby circles, will miss Thomas,” said Adams.
Former Springbok and Lions wing Ashwin Willemse also offered his condolences to the family on Twitter.
“Our deepest condolences to Elton and Tony Jantjies with the passing of their father. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,” he said.
“My deepest condolence 2 u, Ella ur Mom & the family very very sad time that words can’t describe, bt God is in control,” said Springbok Gio Aplon.
Several rugby unions, including the Lions, Blue Bulls and Southern Kings, issued statements with their condolences to the family.
Elton, 22, moved to Cape Town recently to join the Stormers.
THE INS AND OUTS Of BEING STUNG
* How did this happen?
If you have been stung before and did not have an allergic reaction, it does not necessarily mean that you are not allergic to bee sting venom. Dr Ahmed Manjra, a paediatric allergologist, said the first sting may cause a “build-up” of antibodies to combat the venom. Unfortunately, the antibodies cause bodily reactions that can result in anaphylactic shock and ultimately death if not treated.
After being exposed to a substance such as bee sting venom, the person’s immune system becomes sensitised to it, and on being stung a second time, the body can go into anaphylactic shock.
* Can this be potentially life-threatening?
The person who has been stung will break out in a rash, their blood pressure will drop, they can then collapse and their chest will tighten, and they will have difficulty breathing. If it is not treated quickly, the anaphylactic shock can be deadly.
* How can it be treated?
Manjra recommends anyone allergic to bee stings to always carry an Epipen with them. The Epipen, and Epipen Junior for children, is a tool for self-administering adrenalin, that reverses the effect of the allergic reaction.
Giving the person anti-histamines is also important in combating the symptoms, while steroids are also administered later to prevent a recurrence of the reaction.
* Can you be tested to see if you are allergic?
Only if you have been stung by a bee or wasp before, otherwise the test will come up negative.
* Can it be prevented?
Yes. If you find you are allergic to bee or wasp stings, a series of injections can be used to desensitise the person to the allergy. This treatment produces an antibody in your system that will fight the effects of the bee sting antibodies.
* Is there a particular groupof people that are most vulnerable?
Adults with underlying health problems – such as heart disease or asthma – are most vulnerable to the effects of the allergic reaction.