South African football captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead on Saturday 26th October in a suspected botched burglary.
The incident occurred in the township of Vosloorus just outside Johannesburg, South Africa.
Meyiwa had been visiting his girlfriend and mistress, Kelly Khumalo, a local actress and singer. There is believed to have been 7 people in the house when the shooting took place, including Ms Khumalo’s two young children.
South African police have said that two men entered the house at around 8pm local time “demanding money, cell phones and other valuables”.
One of the robbers is said to have demanded a mobile phone from Ms Khumalo. When she refused and a
scuffle broke out, Meyiwa stood up from his seat to intervene and received a single gunshot wound to the chest.
The two attackers then fled on foot with a third male who had been waiting outside. Meyiwa was pronounced dead on arriving at hospital.
Tributes have poured in for Meyiwa ever since this tragic incident occurred. South African coach Ephraim Mashaba wiped away tears in a press conference on the Monday after the murder to describe Senzo as “a very kind person” and “a team player.”
South African midfielder Dean Furman referred to him as “the nicest guy you could wish to meet.”
Meyiwa actually began his football career as a striker for his hometown club London Cosmos in Durban in the 1990s. However, he soon converted to the goalkeeper position.
At the age of 13, he played for KwaZulu-Natal in the Transnet U14 and Coca-Cola U17 Inter-Provincial tournaments. He also represented his country at U17, U20, and U23 level.
It was during these early years that his talent was recognised by Orlando Pirates scouts who inducted him into the club’s youth development system
Meyiwa made steady progress through the Pirates youth setup culminating in a first team debut in November 2006 at the age of 19. The Pirates beat AmaZulu 2-1 in that game, however, Meyiwa failed to nail down a first team place for another seven years.
It was only in 2013 that Meyiwa claimed the number one position at Orlando Pirates as his own. He played an incredibly important role in his team reaching the final of the South African Champions League that year, keeping 7 clean sheets in 16 games.
He made his debut for the South African national team on 2 June 2013 in a two nil victory over Lesotho. He was included in the South African squad for the 2013 African Nations Cup but he did not play a single game.
2014 began well for Meyiwa. The Orlando Pirates won the Nedbank Cup and he was awarded the captaincy of his country by Coach Ephraim Mashaba. He went on to keep four successive clean sheets as South Africa claimed top spot of their African Cup of Nations qualification group.
South Africa’s head coach said of his captaincy, “since he took on that role, we never had any issues with the team and staff. We never had any issues with players coming to us after that. Senzo was not just a goal keeper. He was a peace maker.”
He played the last of his 157 caps for the Pirates the Saturday previous when they beat Ajax Cape Town 4-1 to advance to the semi-finals of the South African League Cup.
As a mark of respect, the Soweto Derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs scheduled for 1 November was postponed.
Meyiwa’s death has once again highlighted the problem of gun violence that exists in South Africa, less than a week after Oscar Pistorius was jailed for the culpable homicide of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
More than 17,000 people were murdered in South Africa between April 2013 and March 2014.
South African police have offered an award of over €11,000 for information that might lead to the arrests of those involved.
Meyiwa is survived by his estranged wife Mandisa and their young child. He had also recently fathered a child with his pop star girlfriend who they named Aphelele.
By Robert Grace
Photos by www.chronicle.co.zw