Former Springbok rally driver and South African cyclist, Jan Hettema, has been murdered on his smallholding in Tweedrag near Boschkop in Gauteng.
83-year-old Hettema made headlines in the early 50’s for his numerous achievements in cycling and rally driving; most notably in the 1956 Summer Olympic Games held in Melbourne in Australia, where he ended in fourth place – representing South Africa in three cycling events.
The cycling legend, who had an almost 40-year career as a rally driver, was the man behind South Africa’s rally victories for five consecutive times. He was also the first winner of the Roof of Africa Rally in 1967.
Police spokesperson Captain Marissa van der Merwe, who confirmed the murder revealed that Hettema was shot in the head during a robbery on Wednesday morning while his wife was assaulted but only sustained minor injuries during the attack.
Merwe added that the attack took place around 08:00 when Hettema, his wife, Elsa and a domestic worker were forcefully overpowered by two armed gunmen.
“Jan was shot dead while his wife was tied up and the worker was shoved into a cupboard,” Merwe told reporters.
The police said the robbers fled with a laptop, cellphones and jewelry and that a case of murder, assault with intention to cause harm and robbery has been opened.
Hettema was the father of well-known singer and songwriter, Helena Hettema.
The cycling legend was born in 1933 in Leeuwarden in The Netherlands but his family repatriated to South Africa days before the outbreak of World War II.
Jan Hettema was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award by Motorsport South Africa (MSA) in 2013 for winning the Victor Ludorum trophy of the Pretoria Motor Club fourteen times during his career.
Meanwhile, the South African Motorsport fraternity has reacted with shock and outrage over the murder of double Springbok and rally legend Jan Hettema.
Multiple Motorsport champion Sarel van der Merwe took to the social media to pay respect to the fallen hero. Van der Merwe wrote on his Facebook page:
“A sad day for SA motor sport with the shooting of the iconic Jan Hettema this morning. He will be remembered as the as the King of rallying, a tough rival and a role model for sportsmen. R.I.P my old enemy, mentor and friend.”