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
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
Sport is more about celebration, but these deaths
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
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
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.
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