What was supposed to be a day of celebration for Jannie du Plessis (pictured above) turned into a living nightmare when the South African rugby star’s baby son, Jan Nathaniël, died in an accidental drowning in a swimming pool at home.
According to Reuters, the tragedy occurred as the family was celebrating the athlete’s 39th birthday at their house in the mining town of Krugersdorp on Tuesday, November 16.
Police Captain Raymond Sebonyane said law enforcement responded to a call at Du Plessis’ home around 7 p.m., where the infant fell into the family’s pool and drowned. He said in a statement to Times News Network:
“The police appeal to parents or guardians of younger children to be more careful where children are playing closer to any hazard. Those with swimming pools should fence them off or cover them with safety nets if not being used.”
Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of Du Plessis’ team, the Lions, told News24 that the team was “devastated” in the wake of the accident, sharing:
“We, as a Lions family, aren’t doing well. I can confirm that this tragedy took place. We are all devastated… As I’m sure everyone can understand, Jannie and his family now need to be left alone to process this tragedy.”
Urging fans to respect the family’s privacy, he continued:
“We offer our full support to him and kindly request everyone to keep them in their thoughts and prayers.”
After the news broke, countless members of the rugby community shared condolences to Du Plessis, who is also a doctor and shares daughters Rosalie and Hele with his wife Ronel.
South African former rugby player Toks van der Linde tweeted:
“Please pray for jannie du Plessis and his family. His son of 1 year old drown last night my hart is broken broken broken.”
Du Plessis’ former team, the Sharks, wrote on Twitter:
“The Sharks extend our deepest condolences to @JannieDup3 , Ronel and the entire Du Plessis family on the tragic loss of his young son. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.”
Tendai Mtawarira, who played with Du Plessis during their 2007 Rugby World Cup victory, retweeted the message and added:
“My heart is broken for the Du Plessis family …….”
The Rugby Players’ Organization also shared:
“There are no words to describe the intolerable pain a parent suffers when they lose a child. Jannie and Ronel, our hearts and prayers are with you.”
Police said they are continuing to investigate the case.
Our hearts, too, go out to the Du Plessis family at this devastating time.
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