Cape Town - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the end of an incredibly trying week for the country, has paid his respects to former Springbok wing Chester Williams. 

Williams, a 1995 World Cup winner and one of the most iconic Springboks of all time, died suddenly on Friday afternoon after suffering a heart attack. 

He was 49. 

It was the latest blow to South Africa in a week that has seen the country's history of gender-based violence highlighted through a number of tragic stories and mass uprising as a result, while xenophobic attacks have also been front and centre. 

It has all resulted in significant criticism directed Ramaphosa's way, with the country having made international headlines for all of the wrong reasons this week. 

The President did, however, pay tribute to Williams via his official Twitter account.

"Not you too Chester? How can we forget the symbolic role you played with the team in winning us the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup," Ramaphosa wrote.

"Your impact both on andoff the field in forging unity amongst all South Africans remains your greatest legacy. Siyabonga. Sithi ndlelanhle."

The Presidency later released a full statement from Ramaphosa.

"President Ramaphosa has offered his sincerest condolences to the family, friends, former teammates and teams with whom Williams shared his life.

“Chester Williams’s death at this tender age leaves all South Africans bereft of a rugby hero and national role model who still had a great deal to offer his sport and his country,” said President Ramaphosa.

“We will miss the humility and joy of life with which Chester conducted himself during an illustrious career that inspired hundreds of thousands of South African children who had previously been excluded from rugby, to take up the game.

“We salute him for the extraordinary achievements he recorded in a life that has sadly ended prematurely.”

Williams is survived by his wife, Maria, and three children, Ryan and twins, Matthew and Chloe.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been made and will be communicated in due course.