Sibling stands in at graduation for student killed in accident

NMMU vice-chancellor Professor Derrick Swartz shakes hands with Andre Fourie, who received an architectural technology degree on behalf of his late brother Shane
Picture: Brian Witbooi

Brother accepts degree

It was a bittersweet moment for Andre Fourie when a hall full of people gave him a standing ovation at his brother’s graduation ceremony.

Accepting the degree on behalf of his brother Shane, who died in a car accident just over three weeks ago, Andre said walking onto the stage in his younger brother’s place was his way of honouring him.

As Fourie walked onto the stage during an NMMU graduation ceremony last week, the crowd rose to their feet, some crying, as they honoured the late student.

Shane, 21, who graduated with a degree in architectural studies, died in a car accident on March 18.

Fourie described his brother as a people’s person, full of life and one who connected with people in a unique way.

“My brother was someone who found a joke in everything. He was always laughing.

“Going up on that stage to accept the qualification for him was something I chose to do,” he said.

Fourie, who teaches English in Qatar, said he was supposed to fly back after Shane’s funeral but had instead stayed to attend the graduation ceremony.

“I called the university and asked them if I could do this and they were more than happy to allow me.

“The whole thing is still a shock to me because I spent the last 18 months away from home.

“So this was my way of honouring my brother.

“He was so full of life and he laughed at almost everything.”

Fourie said every day was a struggle as the family tried to carry on without Shane, who was the middle child of three siblings. “I remember being okay before the ceremony but walking up to that podium with that piece of green paper that had his name on it in my shaking hand, I started feeling rather emotional,” Fourie said.

“The response from the crowd at the ceremony was absolutely overwhelming; it was as if everyone in there knew him.”

Asked to describe a special memory of his brother, Fourie said: “I think I appreciate the fact that he and I got matching tattoos for his 18th birthday.

“We weren’t really planning to do so but my brother was always creative and came up with the idea.

“He gave me this canvas painting of his hand and in the palm of the hand it said brothers.

“I did one of my hand as well, and so on his back he had a tattoo of my hand and on my back I have a tattoo of his.

“It’s something that I don’t regret at all.

“My parents are not having it easy. At the end of the day, no child should have to go before his parents, but we’re taking it one day at a time,” Fourie said.

One thought on “Sibling stands in at graduation for student killed in accident

  • April 11, 2017 at 11:28 am

    That is not Prof D Swartz. Is it so difficult to get the story correct!


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