South Africa

Fans unite to bid farewell

2014-10-30 22:23
Senzo Meyiwa, Phindile Mwelase and Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Hundreds of mourners, including government ministers and national sport stars, converged at a joint memorial service for Senzo Meyiwa, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Phindilie Mwelase in Johannesburg on Thursday.

It was an emotionally charged service for the three athletes at the Standard Bank Arena, in what was a tragic week for South Africa's sport fraternity.

Former long distance runner Mulaudzi died after a car crash on Friday, female boxer Mwelase died after being in a coma for two weeks, while soccer star Meyiwa was shot dead after an alleged robbery on Sunday.

Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said Meyiwa's death was painful because he had a bright future ahead of him.

"We cry when we speak of Senzo Meyiwa because we expected more from him," Mbalula told families and sport fans.

"He was part of the ship we were steering in the right direction."

Kaizer Chiefs captain Itumeleng Khune shared fond memories he had with the slain Pirates captain, Meyiwa.

"From the age of 15, we were already battling for the position of number one," Khune said.

"It went on to Bafana Bafana. We gave them headaches.

"They never knew who to select or put on the bench.

"They would ask the players who they wanted to be in goal but they were also confused. Goalkeeper coach John Tlale used to joke that he wished he could cut me in half and cut Senzo in half, join the two and let us play."

Meyiwa was shot in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, while visiting his singer girlfriend Kelly Khumalo after two men entered the house demanding cellphones.

South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan made a call for a law to remove all illegal guns from the streets.

"We will take those guns to the furnace and build a statue of Senzo Meyiwa," Jordaan said.

"You will decide how big that statue will be. That Senzo Meyiwa will stand in front of SAFA house. When you walk in, you must walk past Senzo."

Mbalula appealed to the public to assist police in capturing the perpetrators.

"You can run but you can't hide.

"If they are your friends, if they are your boyfriends, release them.

"Each one of us has the responsibility because somewhere, somehow, someone knows who killed Senzo Meyiwa," Mbalula said.

Springbok rugby captain Jean de Villiers hailed the trio as national heroes, who would live in the memories of South Africans forever.

"The message from the Springboks is just to show support for the three (sporting) ambassadors of South Africa that passed away," De Villiers said.

"It is a sad day to lose three of our heroes and it is also an opportunity to relive the lives of three fantastic sports people."

Athens Olympic silver-medalist Mulaudzi was killed in a car accident in Mpumalanga, while on his way to Johannesburg after he lost control of his car.

Former runner Hezekiel Sepeng paid tribute to his friend for his contribution to athletics in the country.

"I would like to say Mbuli, goodbye my friend.

"Thanks for what you've done for me and for what you've done for South Africa.

"I was a friend of Mulaudzi on the track and off the track and from 2001 to 2005 we made sure we raised the South African flag high," he said.


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