Distraught Gysie Pienaar: My daughter was 'a Springbok in her own sense'

2019-02-18 19:11
The last picture taken of the Pienaar family. Gysie, René, Ruan and Rida at the Bram Fischer airport in Bloemfontein.

The last picture taken of the Pienaar family. Gysie, René, Ruan and Rida at the Bram Fischer airport in Bloemfontein. (Facebook/ Janine Jackson)

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"She may not have been a Springbok herself, but she was a Springbok child. Everybody adored her. She was a Springbok in her own sense."

That's how former Springbok rugby player and Bloemfontein resident Gysie Pienaar described his daughter, René O'Ehley, 38, who died in a vehicle collision in the Western Cape on Friday.

René's husband of 12 years, Edmund O'Ehley, 41, told Netwerk24 earlier that she was on her way back to Bredasdorp from Stellenbosch when she was involved in an accident on the N2 between Caledon and Botrivier.

Her Volkswagen Polo collided head-on with a truck. Another truck and bakkie were also involved in the collision.

Four days before her death, René shared a photograph of the 1980 Springbok rugby team on her Facebook page. That was the first year her dad played for the national side. Pienaar said she considered him a hero.

"We are a close family, but she and I were particularly close. Ruan and I are too."

René's brother, Ruan, 34, himself a former Springbok who now plays for Montpellier in France, is "heartbroken", Pienaar said. 

Ruan will be arriving in South Africa on Tuesday or Wednesday to spend time with his family. A memorial service for René will be held on Thursday or Friday at the NG church in Bredasdorp. 

René's parents are currently in that town, where she had lived with her family. She had two children with O'Ehley: Kayla, 10, and Edmund Junior, 8. O'Ehley and the children will continue to live in town.

'Always smiling'

"She was always smiling, she had a zest for life. I will miss her terribly," Pienaar said.

PICS: Daughter of former Springbok killed in horror N2 crash

Pienaar spoke to René on the day before she died. He said he called his daughter at least three times per week to find out how she and her family were doing, or to simply have a chat.

She and her mum, Rida, spoke as often as three to four times daily. According to Rida, they had an incredible bond.

"She'd call me for anything. She would be walking around in a shop and tell me: ‘Mum, I'm window shopping. I wish you were here,'"

The Pienaar couple and O'Ehley family see one another approximately six times per year and went on holiday together at the end of every year.

In December, they went to Hartenbos.

Rida said she will always remember how she and René would have one coffee after another while on holiday. They would then stay in their pyjamas before deciding whether to go to the beach or pool. 

"I got up yesterday and had some coffee. . . I'll probably never again have coffee without thinking of her," said an emotional Rida.

'Fantastic mother and friend'

René was a fantastic person, a mother and a friend, who could do just about anything, Rida said. She always had "loads of friends".

Rida says, as a child, René played rugby and cricket with Ruan and his friends and helped her brother with his homework.

René attended Laerskool Fichardtpark and Hoërskool Sand du Plessis in Bloemfontein.

She graduated from the University of the Free State. Until last year, she taught at Laerskool Bredasdorp.

O'Ehley said his family and friends have been supporting him. He said he's taking things one day at a time – "I have to support my children".

"Even though this seems like a mountain before me, I believe my faith will help me get through this."

Read more on:    gysie pienaar  |  cape town  |  accidents
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