Obituary – Louis Luyt: a fearless hardass and pro

2013-02-03 10:00

Louis Luyt was an unstoppable force. He was a grouser, a hardass and sometimes a bully, but he was never without passion, vision and energy.

He was a doer, not just a talker.

He was one of those people whose lives we can look at and conclude that he didn’t let his traumatic childhood and early poverty stand in the way of achieving the highest rung.

On the contrary, this was what inflamed him.

His political naivety (as illustrated by his participation in the purchase of The Citizen; by playing Die Stem at a rugby test in 1992; and taking Nelson Mandela to court when he was president) was a product of the fact that Luyt had no political ideology.

He just wanted things to work.

He was part of the Afrikaner establishment (without joining the Broederbond, who, to his great annoyance, never invited him), but he didn’t fear angering the same establishment by talking to the ANC with Danie Craven.

His fearlessness and nerve in doing things others wouldn’t, even at great risk to himself, was visible throughout his career: his fertiliser empire;

his taking on of the mighty SAB (Luyt launched his own beer, the Luyt Lager); and the way in which he introduced professionalism to international rugby.

His epitaph could be: “Here (finally) rests Louis Luyt. He moved a few mountains, gave a number of important people a licking and never sat quietly.”

Luyt (80), the former president of the SA Rugby Football Union and leader of the Federal Alliance, died in Durban on Friday after suffering heart problems.

»?Du Preez is the author of Luyt’s unauthorised biography

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