Naka Drotské looks back to a year ago when he nearly lost his life

Naka and Marzanne Drotské. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Naka and Marzanne Drotské. (PHOTO: Supplied)

As he watched the sun rise on Friday morning he suddenly realised it’s been exactly a year since he almost died.

Naka Drotské (48), a former Springbok rugby player, now looks back at the attack on his life at the smallholding in Kameeldrift, Pretoria, and realises just how lucky he was to survive.

It hasn’t been an easy road to recovery. Naka spent six weeks in intensive care after sustaining gunshot wounds to his abdomen, arm and chest. He was in such anguish that he at one point begged God to take him.

Speaking to YOU in January, the hooker of the 1995 World Cup-winning Springbok team said, “I was at the lowest point I’d ever been in my life. Angry and frustrated. I asked God to take me . . . I wanted to give up the fight.”

But he didn’t and now a year later, Naka is grateful for a second chance at life.

“It’s all grace – there’s no other way to describe my survival. I got another chance after I was ready to give up, but God knew better,” he tells us on the phone from Bloemfontein in the Free State where he lives with his wife, Marzanne (43), and children.

“It’s only after such a big scare that you truly realise how short life is – and how easily you can come to harm. We read about these things in the media but usually pay it little heed because it hasn’t affected you. Until it happens to you.”

A year ago he’d been travelling to Johannesburg to take his sons, Allen (13) and Tristan (12), to OR Tambo International Airport where they’d be catching a flight to America to visit their mom, Liske.

They’d be spending the night on his brother Tinus’ smallholding and while the family was having a braai, four armed robbers struck. Naka was shot in the right arm and chest, and then in the abdomen. The robbers fled.

“I recall so well, how I’d been making plans for that evening while I was driving to Johannesburg. I never imagined what was to come. Not once did I realise how close I’d come to dying,” he says.

Naka was discharged from hospital on 7 December 2018 but five days later he suffered a serious setback.

What followed was weeks of hell. On 11 December his heart stopped twice and he had to be resuscitated. On 12 December doctors told Marzanne to have the family come to the hospital to bid Naka farewell.

“Wow . . . You regularly ask yourself how lucky one man can be? But it’s not luck – anything but. It’s God’s grace. He’s carried me through this,” Naka says.

Now, he says, he’s fit and healthy. He still has to exercise his right arm after he lost the use of it in the shooting.

“Marzanne and I often tell each other the only thing we should be feeling is gratitude.”

This evening, on the anniversary of the shooting, he’ll be going out to dinner with his family. But they’re not going anywhere near a braai, he teases.

“We’ll rather just have dinner at a restaurant and enjoy each other’s company. But I definitely won’t be braaiing tonight – last year’s braai this time of the year didn’t work out so well.”

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