Two gunmen were shot dead by the brother of South African rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen as they tried to rob a congregation during a church service.
The two robbers were killed and a third was possibly wounded when they stormed into the Querencia Ministries church in Wierda Park, Centurion, South Africa, on Sunday.
They then proceeded to try and rob members of the congregation at gunpoint.
According to Netwerk24, the men were shot by Pieter van der Westhuizen, a congregant and the brother of South Africa’s World Cup winning rugby great Joost van der Westhuizen.
Scrum half Joost made 89 appearances in test matches for the national team, scoring 38 tries and starred in three Rugby World Cups. He died aged 45 in 2017 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Ruan Heyns of the Community Emergency Response Team said that Pastor Kobus Erasmus and other worshippers were pushed around and pistol-whipped by the men.
At one point one of the robbers reportedly held a pistol to Erasmus’ head.
A 15-year-old boy was also reportedly grazed by a bullet.
Ulrich Roux who is acting as Pieter Van der Westhuizen’s attorney has said his client acted in self-defence when he used the weapon to shoot the attackers.
Van der Westhuizen – a former police officer himself – is co-operating with the police investigation.
Brigadier Mathapelo Peters from the police said that three men entered the church and robbed churchgoers of their personal belongings, before a congregant opened fire and killed two of them inside the place of worship.
The third managed to escape in a getaway car after being shot at.
‘The pastor sustained minor injuries and was treated on site,’ Peters said.
Springbok superstar Joost van der Westhuizen was widely regarded as one of the greatest scrum-halves in the sport’s history.
He was an iconic figure in the rugby union and scored 38 tries for his country over the course of a 10-year international career from 1993 to 2003.
At the time of his retirement from the elite level of the sport, that figure represented a national record – though the mark has since been surpassed by Bryan Habana.
He was part of the Springboks team – led by Francois Pienaar – which famously lifted the World Cup on home soil in 1995, and he went on to captain his country for four years.
When he passed away three years ago he left behind two children, son Jordan and daughter Kylie, from his relationship with his wife Amor Vittone, 45.
In 2017, Amor revealed that she had been held up at gunpoint whilst driving her Mercedes on the outskirts of Johannesburg.
The Afrikaans singer had stopped at traffic lights in Diepsloot when an armed thug smashed her windscreen with a revolver and held her up. She said she believed her late husband saved her life from beyond the grave.