S'Busiso Mseleku

Dark cloud over SA sport

2014-10-29 13:53
Sport24 columnist S'Busiso Mseleku (File)

It's been a long time since I heard the term "a dark cloud is hanging over the nation", but I guess it would be an appropriate term to describe the week we have had in sporting circles.

Never has so much tragedy hit the sporting fraternity at the same time.

Just to recap...

On Saturday, we woke up to the news that SA 800m champion and award-winning athlete Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was no more. He died in a car crash outside Orgies in Mpumalanga in the early hours (around 02:00).

While the nation was still reeling from this, we went to sleep - those who managed to sleep - on Sunday with the news that Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa had been shot dead.

As if that was not enough, the week started with an announcement that female boxer Phindile Mwelase had died at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria where she had been in a coma since being knocked out in her last fight.

These deaths sent the country into a spin.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula had to issue condolence statements left, right and centre and also had to travel the lengths and breadths of Mzansi visiting the bereaved families.

Meyiwa's death attracted the most attention with Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega calling an impromptu press conference to announce measures that her charges were engaging in to capture the culprits. She also revealed that a reward of R250 000 was being offered to anyone who could help the police capture the killers.

Messages of support came from all over the world, including FIFA president Sepp Blatter, CAF president Issa Hayatou and several football federations around the globe.

Meyiwa's family enrolled the services of private detectives to assist the police.

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) - sensibly so - announced the postponement of the Soweto Derby following a request from Pirates.

They also announced that a moment of silence would be observed in all Absa Premiership and National First Division matches this weekend.

Pirates retired jersey No 1 that was worn by Meyiwa.

Sport is more about celebration, but these deaths overshadowed that.

The Pirates family was robbed of an opportunity to celebrate their passage to the Telkom Knockout semi-final via a resounding  4-1 victory over Ajax Cape Town.

The deaths also distracted the nation from seeking answers from Vera Pauw on how Banyana Banyana had failed to finish among the Top 3 at the African Women Championships, something they had successfully managed to do in the previous tournaments.

Prior to this tournament, Nigeria was the only nemesis for the South African women's national team, but this time around they could not beat Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

If this does not warrant an enquiry into what went wrong after the South African Football Association (SAFA) poured in so much money over months in preparation, then I don't know.

But that's a subject for another day.

Back to the tragic deaths of our sports people.

Mulaudzi's death aside, as it was an accident, one hopes that something positive will come out of Meyiwa and Mwelase's deaths.

The positive that can come out of Mwelase's unfortunate passing on, would be boxing authorities Boxing SA, the Sports Ministry and all those concerned to take major steps to ensure that the sport is as safe as a house.

On Meyiwa's side, this should serve as a wake-up call to society that we need to do something about crime that happens in our neighbourhood.

We can't just fold our arms. I agree with Mbalula and others who say that in most cases, the communities know the perpetrators of such crimes as the killing of Meyiwa.

I wish the nation could stand up and say in one voice "NO MORE!"

S’Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of the biggest awards in a career spanning well over 20 years. He is currently City Press Sports Editor.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.

Read more on:    s'busiso mseleku  |  soccer

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