Jean de Villiers. (Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images)
Former Springbok captain Jean de Villiers has told his side of the story after a clip of him chasing down a shoplifter went viral.
De Villiers told Netwerk24 earlier this week that he spotted a man allegedly slipping chocolates into his bag before walking out of The Boer & Butcher in Paarl on 23 January.
De Villiers followed the man outside the store, before chasing after him when he tried to run away.
Surveillance footage showed De Villiers running after the man, before returning and handing him over to a security guard.
In an interview with Cape radio station, KFM, on Friday morning, De Villiers said he received plaudits – and friendly banter – from fans for his actions.
“I heard this morning someone said that I was wearing Havaianas, but no, it was Adidas,” he quipped.
KFM presenter Darren Simpson also joked with De Villiers and asked him if he was worried that his knees would hold up, given the fact that the former Stormers star suffered several knee injuries during his rugby career.
“That’s what I was also thinking,” De Villiers laughed.
“I got myself into this position and I was just trying to do a good deed. I thought I would just tap the guy on his shoulder and say ‘listen buddy, I saw what you did, don’t you want to go for the ribeye special rather than the chocolates’. But when I got closer he started running and then I realised ‘flip, I’m too deep into this now not to do anything’. So I had to run and was just praying my knees would hold up.”
“Then halfway into the chase I saw there was a massive queue at Home Affairs, and then I thought what if I can’t catch the dude. That would be pretty embarrassing, but luckily it all turned out well.”
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On a more serious note, De Villiers said he hoped his example was followed by his compatriots.
“I would like to think every South African would do something when they see something like that happening.
“We’re so quick to complain about the wrongs in our country, but if we don’t do anything about it, then it won’t get better. So I’d like to think most people would have done exactly the same thing.”
Earlier, the shop’s owner Edu Hanekom told Netwerk24 they were vey grateful for De Villiers’ actions.
“It was quite a thing when a former Springbok rugby captain arrived with the thief,” Hanekom said.