Prayer 'fast forward'

2003-05-21 22:06

Cape Town - An SMS prayer chain letter caused havoc for a former Springbok athlete from Stellenbosch during the past week after the letter wrongly identified him as the victim of a bicycle accident.

"Johan Fourie, Springbok athlete, dying in Pretoria Academic. Cycling and hit by car. Serious brain damage. Send urgently to 5 friends in prayer please," one version of the SMS message read.

Rumours later circulated that Fourie, 43, a celebrated middle-distance runner in his day, had died.

Fourie said on Wednesday that people started phoning his wife, Marinda, in tears on Friday.

"When they reached me, there was a moment of stunned silence."

The real victim of the bicycle accident was Johan Fourie, 37, from Centurion, a radar technician at the Air Force.

He was injured last week. The machines which kept him alive were switched off on Saturday after he was declared brain dead.

Fourie says he now realises how effective and SMS chain can be.

However, he finds it strange that nobody phoned to find out if the message was true, but only called to sympathise.

"Just goes to show that people believe everything they hear these days."