‘We lost a great warrior’

2014-10-29 00:00

THE ordinarily quiet backstreets of Umlazi were abuzz yesterday outside of the late Senzo Meyiwa’s family home, where a mixture of sad and expectant faces gathered.

Two days after the news of the Bafana Bafana and Pirates goalkeeper’s tragic murder, a number of high-profile members of the South African Football Association, as well as Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, visited Meyiwa’s family at their home in Umlazi.

A huge crowd waited outside the house to catch a glimpse of the delegation.

After a private ceremony where the delegates expressed their condolences to the family, they took time out to address a large contingent of media.

“As we have said before, we have indeed lost a great warrior, a fighter, a role model for South Africa’s youth. Somebody who overcame and thrived over adversity, like you will have seen here in Umlazi, these places were the dumping grounds of apartheid for us not to make it in life,” Mbalula said.

“But people like Senzo Meyiwa emerged from this township and became not only warriors but heroes for millions of South Africans. This is where they come from, the dusty streets in the mountains, in the hills of KwaZulu-Natal,” he went on to say.

Mashaba’s words were particularly heartfelt considering he had backed Meyiwa by giving him the national captaincy in all four of Bafana’s 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

“People had been in doubt whether we should make Senzo captain or not and I’ll just clarify why we did. At Safa, when we select players, there are a few core values that we consider. We look at things like respect, discipline, commitment and passion. But most importantly, you need to be a person who knows why you’re donning the jersey,” Mashaba said.

“When we got to Senzo, we were surprised in the technical committee as we didn’t even waste 20 minutes in making our decision because we realised he had all those core values.”

Mashaba said Meyiwa’s performance as captain had been faultless, and he acted as a mediator between players and the coaching staff.

“I am telling you we have lost not only a football player, we’ve lost a leader and somebody who was a real team player.

“What pains me most is that this happened to Senzo when he was going higher, and I could see very soon he was going to get a big contract. The thing with goalkeepers is that they mature like wine — the best are all over 27 or 28 and this is where Senzo was heading,” he said.

Mashaba pleaded with the public not to speculate on the circumstances surrounding Meyiwa’s death and to wait for the results of police investigations.

Orlando Pirates spokesperson Micky Modisane was also present in Umlazi and said that the club were still reeling from the news of Meyiwa’s death.

“It’s tough, we’ve acquired the services of a clinical psychologist to talk to the players and that discussion was happening today.

“Remember that Senzo was very close to them and the pain that the players are currently feeling will take a while to go away,” Modisane said.

“You can understand the impact that he had on his team-mates, he was one of the greatest we have ever had and he will be deeply missed,” Modisane said.

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