South Africa pays tribute to murdered goalkeeper Meyiwa
Tributes continued to pour in on Monday for Senzo Meyiwa after the South Africa goalkeeper was killed on Sunday evening.
Two gunmen entered a house in Vosloorus township, near Johannesburg, while an accomplice waited outside, before fleeing on foot after the 27-year-old had been shot, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said on its Twitter account.
Orlando Pirates chairman Dr Irvin Khoza, Premier Soccer League chief executive Brandt de Villiers, South African Football Association chief executive Dennis Mumble and Bafana Bafana head coach Ephraim Mashaba were among those in attendance at a press conference on Monday morning.
Khoza revealed many players from Soweto derby rivals Kaizer Chiefs, whose scheduled weekend game against the Pirates has been postponed, had visited the hospital on Sunday night.
"Last night at the hospital, there were many players from Kaizer Chiefs, which shows you the magnitude of what happened," he said at the press conference, quoted on the club’s Twitter account.
Khoza immediately wrote to the PSL and SAFA requesting the postponement of Saturday’s derby, saying it would be "insensitive" for the game to go ahead, and De Villiers was quick to oblige.
"Our condolences to the family and club in this time of mourning," the PSL chief said.
"I will always remember his humble nature and easy smile. Whenever he introduced the players in the line-up, always the same.
"Out of respect for Senzo, the derby match will not take place this weekend. We will communicate the logistics in due time."
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) October 27, 2014
Khoza, who will head to Durban later on Monday to be with the player’s family, had an emotional meeting with the Pirates players on Monday.
"It’s not easy to hold back emotions, especially on an event like this one," he said. "Senzo was not an ordinary player. He was a national and club captain. It was only natural that there would have been some tears this morning. I encouraged it."
Mashaba paid tribute to Meyiwa for his kindness and affable personality on and off the pitch.
"Since he took on that (South Africa captain’s) role, we never had issues with the team and staff," Mashaba said. "We never had issues with players coming to us after that.
"He had that personality that meant that he could easily defuse a situation.
"I spoke to a lady earlier, from last week in fact. When he heard she was building a house he gave her money to carry on.
"His words: ‘sisi, put in some windows so you can always see Senzo’. This was the persona of the young man. This is the kind of person that we have lost."
Mashaba added: "Senzo was not just a goalkeeper. He was a peacemaker. That’s the biggest thing I remember about him.
"A good guy like Senzo will never just vanish. His spirit will live forever."
Mumble too will have only happy memories of Meyiwa.
"Everyone I know who talks of him says the same thing – that when you finish speaking to him you always leave with a smile," he said. "It’s a very sad time for us, a difficult time. We need to mourn him, but also celebrate what he stood for."
Kaizer Chiefs chairman Kaizer Motaung added: "Silahlekelwe sonke (we’ve all lost). May his colleagues continue to feel inspired when they remember him this fighter, a soldier.
"We need to thank God for having given us the opportunity to have Senzo in our midst, and for him to share his talents.
"His family has lost, the club has lost, the country has lost. It’s a national tragedy."
South Africa’s minister of sport and recreation Fikile Mbalula earlier urged anyone with any relevant information to come forward to police.
Mbalula said he was "deeply shocked" and that it was a "sad day" for South Africa, before posting a fuller statement on Twitter in which he called for the "thugs" responsible to be brought to book.
"The minister of sports and recreation, Minister Fikile Mbalula, has sadly learnt of the untimely passing of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, who died through gunshot wounds at the hands of criminals yesterday at 8pm in Vosloorus at the house of his companion," a statement read.
"We humbly encourage all individuals who have any information on on the whereabouts of these thugs to co-operate fully with the police on the urgent apprehension of these shameless individuals.
"We urge the police to leave no stone unturned in apprehending the thugs as a matter of urgency. Our society will never be at peace until the suspects have been arrested and been brought under the wrath of the country’s legal system."
Dean Furman, one of Meyiwa’s team-mates, tweeted on Sunday night: ”Beyond devastated at the loss of our captain & friend Senzo Meyiwa. Thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends at this terrible time.”
Meyiwa played for the Pirates in a 4-1 win over Ajax Cape Town on Saturday, and captained the national team in four African Nations Cup qualifiers this year.
South Africa rugby union winger Bryan Habana tweeted: "No words can describe the tragic and untimely death of #SenzoMeyiwa. A true South African hero taken way to soon!! May his soul RIP."
Former Tottenham and Portsmouth midfielder and Ghana international Kevin-Prince Boateng tweeted: ”TRAGEDY!!!! R.I.P. Senzo Meyiwa. My condolences to his family&friends.”
South African cricketer Vernon Philander said on Twitter: ”My thoughts and prayers goes out the family of Senzo Meyiwa. May you find the comfort in the Lord during this difficult time. RIP.”