Springbok rugby player Francois Hougaard arrives at a memorial service for model Reeva Steenkamp at the Victoria Park Crematorium in Port Elizabeth. Steenkamp's boyfriend Olympic and Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been charged with her murder. File picture: REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Johannesburg - The “message of death” is a myth. So said rugby star Francois Hougaard about the SMS he was rumoured to have sent to Reeva Steenkamp on the night of her death, allegedly causing a fight between her and Oscar Pistorius that led to her death.

Hougaard spoke about it publicly for the first time to YOU magazine for an article which will appear in next week’s October 3 issue.

“People were blaming me for what happened. That was very unfair,” he said in an interview at his Pretoria home while recovering from an ankle injury. “I had nothing to do with the situation; I got thrown under a bus.”

He said he had indeed been involved in a relationship with Steenkamp - a brief one - and that the last time they had communicated with one another, months before she died, was before Steenkamp had even started dating the Paralympian.

Hougaard had, however, seen her about two weeks before her death, at a mutual friend’s engagement dinner, he told the magazine.

“I respect someone who’s in a relationship. We didn’t really chat. I respected what they had going and obviously if you’re the ex and the person you’re speaking to is now their chick, they’re going to feel … not threatened – it’s just not nice, you know.”

Steenkamp was not the only woman both 25-year-old Hougaard and Pistorius had dated, the article pointed out. Both men had also gone out with Melissa Rom.

Hougaard’s relationship with Steenkamp ended because he did not want anything serious – he was about to travel overseas on rugby commitments, he told YOU.

“If I had wanted to be in a serious relationship we would probably still be dating,” he said.

He was nonetheless deeply saddened by her death.

“I was very sad. I cared for her deeply. Before this I had never really lost someone I’d spent time with.”

Hougaard described Steenkamp as “genuine”.

“We had a lot in common. She wasn’t a girly girl. She was … ‘gangsta’. That’s the only way I can describe it.”

He told the magazine Steenkamp might have donned an evening dress and jewellery for red carpet do’s but “the Reeva he knew” wore jeans and liked fast cars – she’d say things like “that’s really sick” when she saw a set of wheels she liked.

Hougaard and Steenkamp met last year at the home of Darren Fresco, one of the State witnesses in Pistorius’s murder trial.

 

Later the two became friends and a few months later started dating.

“She was always smiling. She was an amazing person, very motivated and ambitious.”

Pretoria News Weekend