All roads lead to Durban as thousands of people attended the funeral of South Africa’s legendary football captain Senzo Meyiwa in his hometown today.
Meyiwa, 27, was shot and killed on Sunday evening in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni while visiting his girlfriend, actress and singer Kelly Khumalo. Two men entered the house, demanding cellphones, and shot him before fleeing.
Many fans wore their sport regalia, mostly dressed in Orlando Pirates colours in support to the team that Meyiwa captained and played for in the Premier Soccer League. The funeral is taking place at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Meyiwa’s hometown of Durban where fans were singing and dancing as they waited for the gates to the stadium to open.
The sound of Vuvuzelas and drums accompanied the singing whilstPirates flags and banners bearing the words “Rest in Peace Senzo Meyiwa” were held high in the air. Our gloomy weather Durban weather did not deter the high-spirited supporters, determined to bid their captain farewell.
The funeral of another South African sporting hero, former 800m world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, also took place today.
Mulaudzi was killed in a car accident the day before Meyiwa’s death.
Yesterday a 25-year-old Vosloorus resident, Zenokuhle Mbatha, was arrested and charged on the basis of the positive identification. The National Prosecuting Authority said Mbatha would appear in court again on November 11 when he was expected to apply for legal aid.
Meanwhile on Friday, the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed that a man appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on the day in connection with the murder of Meyiwa.
“The man, Zanokuhle Mbatha … is facing a charge of murder and robbery of Mr Senzo Meyiwa,” NPA spokesman Nathi Mncube said. “He will appear in court again on November 11 for a formal application for legal aid.”
Flags at half-mast
President Zuma ordered the national flag to be flown at half-mast on Saturday to honour the goalkeeper.Authorities also announced that the South African national team would play their next Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan in Durban.
Many fans took buses from Johannesburg to Durban to bid farewell to Meyiwa. “I’m here to pay my last tribute to Meyiwa. He inspired me a lot. For me he was Orlando Pirates,” said one fan.
Some carried placards that read “Rest in Peace Meyiwa” and “Hambe Kahle [Good Bye]”. All around the inside of the stadium event organisers had placed numerous photos of the slain soccer star.
A stage had been erected at one end with a marquee set up for VIPs. Police sniffer dogs carried out a search of the stadium before the official guests arrived.
Later Senzo Meyiwa’s coffin was lowered into a grave at the Heroes Acre cemetery in Chesterville. Meyiwa’s wife wept, and appeared to be speaking to the slain Orlando Pirates goalkeeper as she threw a flower into the grave.
Meyiwa’s father Samuel looked lost and forlorn, and seemed to be confused after being handed the South African flag that was draped over Meyiwa’s coffin.
As relatives approached the grave, they too began to weep. Kaizer Chiefs players, led by goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, placed flowers in the grave. Mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan and Deputy Agriculture Minister Bheki Cele also paid their respects. Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula stood at the grave with a bowed head. Meyiwa’s grave was next to anti-apartheid journalist Nat Nakasa, who was buried at the cemetery in September, 49 years after he was buried in New York.
A sad day indeed…..