Heritage day could be a sequence of events but it is about History and Rugby.
Verwoerd, Tsafendas and Gazelles Tour.
So here goes…
1965 / 66 I was selected from Natal with Julian Bennet to tour Brazil, Argentina and Chile over three months as part of the Gazelles. Eight current Springboks were part of our team including Dawie De Villiers and Hannes Marais. The plan was to build a team to beat the All Blacks destined to tour RSA in 1970 which goal the Springboks achieved.
What took place prior to leaving was the invitation by SARB for the NZ Maori’s to tour RSA, was aborted by our President Dr Verwoerd who made it clear that they would not be welcome in our country. Two important events took place that are part of RSA and Rugby history.
On our arrival in Rio our game was cancelled as a result of our Apartheid system in particular not welcoming the NZ Maori’s to tour. The tour went ahead and we played all the other scheduled games, and won all the games including two test matches against the “Los Pumas” Argentina. Jannie Le Roux Manager, Flappie Lochner Selector and Isaac Van Heerden Coach were the officials and we had an excellent Rugby experience.
The second more significant event took place on the Pampas where we were hosted to a barbecue, where we watched the horsemanship and other skills of the Gauchos. At the time lunch was being served we heard that Dr Verwoerd had been murdered in Parliament. Naturally everyone was extremely upset, but to my astonishment and also Isaac Van Heerden’s most of the players wanted to go home.
Isacc and I had much to do with the continuation of that tour simply by stating that there was nothing to be gained by going home and that we were merely a sports team interacting with other countries to create goodwill on behalf of our country. Isaac was also seconded to the Pumas for three months by SARB and Dr Craven, to teach them the finer points of the game, really a great sporting gesture. So the invitation aborted the cancellation of the Rio game on arrival and the death of Verwoerd, have worried me all my life, these events were somehow connected.
I could not understand the connection of events until I heard a conversation and event described by Roger Gardner, involving a visit to a wine farm to entertain a British Rugby reporter by Doctor Craven, who made him stop outside a home in Stellenbosch. Dr Craven told the reporter that this was the home of the man who destroyed SA and our game of Rugby, it was the home of the late Hendrik Verwoerd
Well it did not take me long to solve a problem that had always seemed strange, was our President assassinated for banning the NZ Maori’s from touring RSA? If so who were the people responsible, and that I will leave for others to figure out. However it is a part of our history and it has concerned me all my life that Tsafendas a court messenger could stab Dr Verwoerd in Parliament with all the security present, possible but extremely unlikely, without an organized plan.
When you add Pratts failure to assassinate Dr Verwoerd six years earlier and the fact that Tsafendas served in the USA Security when Kennedy was assassinated, you have to consider the USA and SA liaison and the role of the Broederbond.
Rugby was used as a tool to gain respect for the ideology of the Government at the time and you may recall the Broederbond who I believe had a major say in Government and Apartheid and were extremely influential in our history.