Bafana Bafana captain Meyiwa given a hero’s send-off

3 November 2014

Senzo Meyiwa

Senzo Meyiwa’s Orlando Pirates teammates pay their last respects with song and dance (Photo: SAnews.gov)

Mourning fans filled the streets of Durban, forming a guard of honour for Senzo Meyiwa along the route of the funeral convoy taking his body from his home in Umlazi to Moses Mabhida Stadium, on Saturday, 1 November.

The convoy passed the grave of Meyiwa’s twin brother, Siyabonga, for a ritual before arriving at the stadium, where tens of thousands of fan had come to bid farewell to a man many saw as a national hero. Mourners wore soccer regalia – mostly in the colours of Orlando Pirates, Meyiwa’s team – and T-shirts bearing pictures of his face, which were handed out at the funeral. Singing and the trumpet of vuvuzelas filled the air as his casket, draped in the South African flag, was brought in to the stadium.

Delivering the official eulogy, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said Meyiwa had contributed to the dignity of the country, but that crime had cost him his life. He was the latest in a list of leaders in the government and sports fraternity to say that Meyiwa’s death meant the time had come for South Africa to build a new society, one in which freedom reigned with no space for crime.

“The flower that was blooming has been withered away by the greed of a senseless gunman. [If] greed was not such a destructive force, the multitudes that have gathered here today would be going about their daily chores,” Radebe said.

All South Africans from all walks of life had come to relieve the Meyiwa family of the heavy burden of loss. “Today all South Africans are the Meyiwas. the Mulaudzis. the Mwelases. Collectively and equally, these families deserve our eternal gratitude as South Africans because they [lent] us their children,” he said.

Meyiwa’s funeral took place on the same day as Olympic medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of Limpopo, who was killed in a car crash on 24 October while driving from Limpopo to Gauteng for an athletics meeting. The two sportsmen both received provincial official funerals. Minister of Public Service and Administration Collins Chabane delivered the eulogy at Mulaudzi’s funeral.

The funeral of boxer Phindile Mwelase was also held on Saturday, at Emashiselweni near Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal. It was attended by Deputy Sports Minister Gert Oosthuizen. The 31-year-old died last week; she had been in a coma for two weeks after being knocked out in fight against Liz Butler in Pretoria on 10 October.

Under the instructions of President Jacob Zuma, the national flag was flown at half- mast in both provinces on Saturday.

Meyiwa, who was the captain of national team Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates, was buried in Heroes Acre in Chesterville. He was shot dead during a robbery at the home of his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni on 26 October.

Orange Cup qualifier

His funeral was attended by over 30 000 people from across South Africa. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula urged Bafana Bafana to make Meyiwa’s wish come true by qualifying for the CAF Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that following a request by Safa, the South African Football Association, Bafana’s next qualifier, against Sudan on 15 November, has been moved from Mbombela in Nelspruit to Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium. This request was made to play the match in Meyiwa’s hometown to honour and pay tribute to him. Kick-off will be at 3pm.

Mbalula also pledged the assistance of Sports and Recreation South Africa in the fight against crime. “We will never rest until we find all those who killed Senzo. We will work tirelessly to make sure that we fight crime as the Department of Sports and Recreation.”

The founder of Kaizer Chiefs FC, Kaizer Motaung, spoke on behalf of the National Soccer League, saying that if it was not for crime, Meyiwa would still be alive. “The question that remains when Senzo is gone is: ‘What do we do about the crime, what do we do about the perpetrators?’ Somebody somewhere knows the perpetrators who committed this crime. We need to inculcate a new culture in society. We should not celebrate crime and criminals. If somebody has information about this, he or she should not keep the information from the police, otherwise that person is equally guilty of that particular crime,” Motaung said.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu said Meyiwa represented the future of the province, the nation and the world. He condemned crime in South Africa: “The criminals are not in control; we are in control. We are in full control and we will continue to fight them in all their ways.”

Suspect arrested for Meyiwa’s murder

Meanwhile, a 25-year-old man from Vosloorus has been arrested following the murder of Meyiwa. Zanokuhle Mbatha was arrested after police received information about a number of suspects. Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale of South African Police Services (SAPS) said an identity parade was conducted on Thursday, during which some of the witnesses identified one person.

“During consultation with the prosecution team, it was decided that this person should be arrested and charged on the basis of the positive identification by some of the witnesses,” he said. Mbatha had been remanded in custody and would reappear in court on 11 November.

“We are continuing with our investigations.” While much progress had been made, it was important to note that Mbatha was a suspect at the moment. “We therefore must allow due process of the law to take its course,” Makgale said. Updates were expected today.

Transport laid on

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) provided free transport to mourners to the funeral services and burials of Meyiwa, Mulaudzi, and Mwelase.

Some 10 buses and two trains were sent to transport mourners to KwaZulu-Natal from Gauteng for Meyiwa’s funeral and burial. The agency also sent 10 buses to Athletics South Africa to help transport mourners to the funeral service and burial of Mulaudzi at his village of Muduluni, in Limpopo. Four buses were provided to transport mourners to the funeral of Mwelase from Johannesburg, Durban, and Ladysmith.

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov