Death of a dream

2014-10-28 00:00

GUNNED down by robbers in Gauteng, Senzo Meyiwa had risen from a scruffy Umlazi township street, where chickens still roam, to become Bafana Bafana captain.

But school pupils on their way to the first matric exams stopped at his family home to tell how the star goalkeeper had spurred them to follow him out of poverty — and to vow that “we will not allow the dream to die with him”.

Still shocked by the horrific news of the 27-year-old’s murder in Gauteng, Busi Ngcobo (17) said: “Our dream begins on the day that Senzo’s dream ends.”

She was among a scrum of six Grade 12s who resolved to “sacrifice” so that one of them, junior footballer Mxolisi Ngidi (18), would also rise from Umlazi’s K Section to South Africa’s national team, “and be our next Senzo”.

“He can make it too — we will see to it,” said Busi.

Meyiwa’s parents have now lost both of their identical twin sons.

In a quavering voice, long-time friend Emanuel Xaba told The Witness: “I was there with Senzo when his twin was washed out to sea on Isipingo Beach. They were about seven or eight. How cruel for this to happen.”

The goalkeeper, famed for stopping penalty shots, was at the home of his girlfriend, actress and singer Kelly Khumalo, when the robbers fired.

He once told Pirates football club: “I fear no one but God.”

Yesterday, his father, Sam, said: “Now we can rely only on God. I don’t know what to do. It is hard to understand that Senzo is no more.”

He added: “These people who break my heart, they must get life sentences.”

Chickens wander around overflowing recycling bags across the street from Meyiwa’s childhood home, and peck at rotting avocados.

The only physical evidence of Meyiwa’s rise to fame and fortune from this same neighbourhood are new stainless steel gates and a brand new wall, with expensive lanterns, around the cracked green walls of his family house.

But the evidence of his personal inspiration is everywhere.

Siphiwe Msweli (17) is determined to become a doctor; Nobuhle Ngubane (18) says “I will be a social worker”; Ngidi will play in the PSL, and Busi Ngcobo herself aims to be a lawyer — and all of them say Meyiwa had triggered their ambitions.

During his frequent visits, Meyiwa herded local boys and girls up to an intersection on Mgaga they call “the ring” for street soccer games.

The goalkeeper used breeze block bricks as goals, and “let some of them through for us”.

His father told The Witness yesterday that Meyiwa was due to return to Durban hours before he was shot in Vosloorus.

“He was supposed to drive down yesterday, but changed his plan — he said he needed to collect some money from the squad,” said his father.

Recalling games on the ring, Ngcobo said: “I can play soccer now — he taught me.

“He was such a kind man. We forgot that he was famous.”

Neighbours said their star’s only vice was a love for new cars — and his only concession to celebrity was a need to show them off.

Sam Meyiwa said: “He came down two weeks ago and showed me his new car — a BMW.”

Meyiwa shared classrooms with his closest neighbour, Hlengiwe Ngubane, for nine years, but the pair had little else in common. But he visited her for tea every time he was in town.

“He would come and bring balls for the children; he’d bring jerseys for the school,” she said.

Two weeks ago, Meyiwa secured a sponsor for a local soccer academy.

Up the street at Shabos Supermarket, Sipho Ngubane told how he sold Cokes, tennis biscuits and cakes to Meyiwa as a teenager. Meyiwa had healthier habits as a professional footballer, but visited Ngubane anyway.

“He lived big for us here; he never forgot us,” said Ngubane.

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