Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa's death is more painful because the country expected more from him, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Thursday.
"We cry when we speak of Senzo Meyiwa because we expected more from him," Mbalula told families and sport fans at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg, at a memorial service for three sports stars.
"He was part of the ship we were steering in the right direction."
The national soccer captain was shot dead in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, while visiting his singer girlfriend Kelly Khumalo on Sunday evening. Two men entered the house demanding cellphones and shot him before fleeing.
Former world champion 800m track sensation Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car accident in Mpumalanga on Friday. He was on his way to Johannesburg when he lost control of his car.
Welterweight boxer Phindile Mwelase died on Saturday after being in coma for two weeks following a bout.
The service was attended by Mbalula, ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan, and Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba.
Mbalula told Mashaba he had surpassed expectations since taking over the helm of the national team. He said he would not worry if he lost his next game.
"Even if you were to lose tomorrow, I would not care because I know where we are going and the road we are travelling," Mbalula said.
He said the last time he visited the team in camp, he saw ambitious youngsters brought together by a need to represent their country.
"When Itumeleng Khune says he and Senzo were ambitious, I like that. South Africa wants young people that are hungry. May the death of Senzo be inspiration to succeed more. Go and do us proud and fight for this nation," he said.
Mbalula said there would be an investigation into Mwelase's death.
"If nothing happened it's still fine, but if there was negligence, then heads must roll," he said.