Ex-Bok grieves as train kills friend

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Copy of ca Train Crash DONE8978 Independent Newspapers The wreckage of the bakkie in which Dr Henry Wiggans was killed when it was hit by a train outside Stellenbosch. Picture: Henk Kruger

Cape Town - When former Springbok great Dawie Snyman’s phone rang at 6 on Tuesday night, he had no idea of the tragic news it would bring.

He was at home on the farm Olives, opposite the Spier Estate, outside Stellenbosch.

He had been waiting for his best friend, “my blood brother”, Dr Henry Wiggans, who was due to visit, when his phone rang. It was the farm manager.

“He asked me if I was expecting anyone. I said ‘yes’. He said I’d better come down to the gate,” Snyman told the Cape Argus.

He arrived at the farm entrance, barely 300m from the Spier railway station on Baden Powell Drive. To reach the farm, visitors must cross the train tracks.

And the sight that greeted him was that of his friend’s SUV wrapped around the front of a Metrorail passenger train.

 

The train had only been able to come to a standstill 200m after the point of impact. Wiggans stood no chance of surviving.

On Wednesday, the grieving former Springbok said: “He was coming to deliver a parcel which his wife Jackie was putting together for my grandson in Australia.

 

“I spoke to him three times between 5pm and 6pm - he was going to come up to the farm as soon as he’d finished his business in Stellenbosch,” Snyman said.

He had met his “blood brother” in 1969, when he had arrived at Stellenbosch University. The friends had lived at the residence Dagbreek.

While Snyman had pursued his rugby career, Wiggans had eventually graduated with a doctorate in commerce.

“He raised my first three children for me - I was too busy playing rugby,” Snyman said. “He’s like their second father.

“Henry was unique in that there was not a single person in his life he did not give to. He never expected anything in return. He was an absolutely amazing guy,” Snyman said.

Wiggans and Jackie have two young children, a son Spencer, 11, and daughter Anna-May, 8.

Jackie Wiggans said on Wednesday: “We are absolutely devastated and my heart’s broken for my children. We just don’t understand how it happened… We’ve both driven over that line a gazillion times.”

The railway crossing is just a few kilometres from that at Vlaeberg Road, which has claimed many lives.

Snyman, a Western Province and Bok flyhalf and full-back, played international rugby from 1971 to 1977 and later became a championship-winning coach.

Cape Argus


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