Joost van der Westhuizen's family has opened up about the Springbok legend's final moments.
Van der Westhuizen (45) passed away on Monday, 6 February, after a long battle with motor neuron disease.
Pieter van der Westhuizen told You magazine that it had been his brother's decision to take himself off a ventilator that Monday morning.
However, the doctor later explained to Pieter that even if Joost had stayed on the ventilator, he would only have had a few days left, and a month at most. The doctor also revealed later that Joost had been clinically dead on arrival on the Saturday, but that hospital staff had revived him.
'He told me, “I'm tired now, I want to go home [to heaven],' said Pieter.
Joost also told his mother, Mariana, 'Mom, you must let me go now.'
Van der Westhuizen had said that he didn't want to die in hospital, so he returned home at around midday. A bed was prepared for him in the living room and photos of the children brought to him from his bedroom wall.
Having said goodbye to his mother, who then left the room, Joost passed away soon after 1pm in the presence of Pieter and father Gustav.
Van der Westhuizen's estranged wife Amor, and their children Jordan (13) and Kylie (10), only arrived at the house after 2pm, but they had said their goodbyes at the hospital over the weekend.
'The paramedic just looked at me and shook his head,' said Pieter of the moment when Joost passed away. 'I knelt next to him, held him and closed his eyes. I put the blanket over him. Then I went to my mother and they just knew.'
Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images