James Small’s family has again asked for privacy seemingly in light of a controversial report in a Sunday newspaper.
According to Rapport, a judicial inquest has been opened into the death of the former Springbok legend following allegations that he was found unconscious in a ‘gentleman’s club’ before being rushed to hospital.
Citing several anonymous sources, the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper said a woman arrived at a hospital in Bedfordview around midnight on Tuesday with Small in the car.
The woman allegedly told hospital staff the man in the car was a client of her club, while there was also reportedly a scuffle when it came to signing him in at the hospital, with police having to intervene.
On Friday, following the completion of the autopsy, the family of the 50-year-old former Springbok confirmed the cause of death was a ‘heart attack’. In addition, the statement said a police investigation had found no suspicious circumstances.
The family released a second statement on Saturday night, urging media and the public to respect their privacy, especially that of Small’s two children.
‘Given how well-known James was, we understand the media and public interest. The James we know made mistakes. Yes, he battled tough times. Who hasn’t? However, he took responsibility for those mistakes – the many journalists who interviewed him, and all his teammates and friends will attest to this. James’s legacy speaks for itself.
‘As his family, our sole concern right now are his two young children, who are shocked and devastated. To lose your father suddenly is traumatic enough without the added pressure they are getting from certain sectors.
‘We again seriously request that the children and the family’s privacy be respected by the media.
‘James lived his life in the public eye. His children did not.
‘The coroner and police have confirmed that James died from a heart attack. No foul play is suspected. This is surely where the public’s ‘need-to-know’ should end.
‘We will not dignify any other stories or rumours with a response and will not be making any further comment.
‘We have a funeral to plan and the life of a hero – a man we loved – to celebrate.’
Small’s funeral will be held in Johannesburg at 2pm on Thursday 18 July, with the venue to be confirmed on Monday. All mourners will be welcome.
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