Gabisile Ngcobo and Dries Liebenberg

2012-06-09 00:00

IT was a poignant tribute posted on Facebook, 67 minutes after doctors switched off the life support equipment for popular Underberg farmer and renowned canoeist Graeme Anderson yesterday.

His sister Kerry Venniker wrote: “My brothers were reunited today — love them so much and am honoured to have had them in my life — proud of you guys xx”.

It was a reference to the twin tragedies that have struck Kerry and her parents, Mark and Trish Anderson, in less than a year.

For while the family had to deal with Graeme’s diagnosis with rabies five weeks ago, they were still trying to come to terms with the death of his brother, Guy, who died a mere few months earlier.

Although Graeme (29) was declared braindead on Wednesday, his loved ones wanted to give family and friends time to say their farewells.

Doctors were given permission to turn off his life support equipment at the Pietermaritzburg Medi-Clinic yesterday.

“It was a very difficult decision to switch off the machines that were keeping him alive,” family spokesperson Dr Grant Lindsay said.

Anderson’s family were devastated at having to make the decision.

Anderson was surrounded by loved ones, including his father, Mark, brother-in-law Jeremy Venniker, his best friend, Ross O’ Donoghue, who travelled form Zambia, as well as Lindsay.

Gospel music played in the background and Anderson was declared dead at 2.52 pm.

“We held hands and said a prayer,” said Lindsay.

Anderson’s mother Trish, sister Kerry and girlfriend Karen Crouch were not present.

“Graeme was a fighter. He wasn’t going to survive this long if he wasn’t,” said Lindsay.

Yesterday marked five weeks since Anderson was first sedated. He was the first person in South Africa to receive treatment for rabies under the Milwaukee Protocol, which involved keeping him in a coma for some time to try to limit the damage to his brain and nervous system in the hope he could recover from the infection.

Earlier this week, Lindsay said that the Anderson family was fortunate to be able to afford the treatment, the cost of which was equivalent to that of innoculating 250 000 dogs in Thailand, a hot-spot of the disease.

Anderson was well known in agriculture, as well as in canoeing circles as a “daredevil” extreme sportsman.

He contracted rabies from a dog he picked up in Underberg village and took home about three months ago.

Friends have previously described Anderson as an “adrenaline junkie” and one of the top extreme sportsmen in South Africa.

Along with O’Donoghue and Tim Biggs, he was involved in kayaking in the Amazon and in February 2008, he was the winner of the sixth Thrombi X-Fest in Thrombosis Gorge on the Umzimkulu River — an annual extreme sports festival.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.