Murdered soccer legend praised

2016-04-06 06:00
HAPPY TIMES: The late Alfred “Chencha” Helepi (left) with Trot Moloto, former teammate at Moroka Swallows.                                     Photo: Supplied

HAPPY TIMES: The late Alfred “Chencha” Helepi (left) with Trot Moloto, former teammate at Moroka Swallows. Photo: Supplied

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TRIBUTES and messages of condolences continue to pour in for the murdered Alfred “Chencha” Helepi (70), a former football star whose exciting career spans a period from the 1960s to the mid-1970s. Mourners have been visiting the fallen football legend and entrepreneur’s home in Phaha­meng since his senseless murder on Tuesday night, 29 March.

Five suspects, two women and three men aged between 27 and 38, have been arrested in connection with Helepi’s brutal murder. They appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Monday (04/04), facing charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, armed robbery and theft of a motor vehicle. One of the suspects is a woman who was employed by Helepi at his business, Helepi’s Tavern.

A multitudes of football lovers, players, businessmen and -women are expected to pay tribute at Helepi’s memorial to be held on Wednesday (06/04) at Kagisho Secondary School.

Sello Helepi, the family spokesperson, said the deceased’s funeral service would be held on Sunday. He said proceedings at his home in Phetlho Street would start at 07:00 and at 11:00 it will proceed to the graveyard. The late football legend leaves behind his two sisters, son, Tshediso, and five grandchildren.

Affectionately known as Chencha, Helepi’s heydays in football includes playing for several clubs and making football part of his life. Sello says the fallen legend’s voyage of discovery in football began at the age of six after watching the first ever big game between Transvaal Jumpers FC and Moroka Swallows in Top Location, Vereeniging.

“It was after this match when he switched his support to Moroka Swallows and dreamt of playing alongside the likes of Difference ‘City Council’ Mbanya,” says Sello. “At the age of 19, in 1964, he was promoted to play for Moroka Swallows FC – Mbanya Group in Soweto. He played in the original Soweto derby between Moroka Swallows and Orlando Pirates.”

Helepi’s teammates at Swallows include Trot Moloto, former Bafana Bafana coach, Mthunzi “Shadow” Kota, Percy “Chippa” Moloi, Andries “Six Mabone” Maseko, Samson “Chincha Soweto” Masuku, Jonas “Paradise” Sello, Lovemore Mabaso, James “Akulalwa” Mabena, John “Special” Makhubu”, Alfred “KK” Lentsoane, “Squash” Radebe, Lazarus “Junior Shadow” Nhleko, Daniel “Vader” Mophosho, Irvin “Pepe” Dire, Blessing “Killer” Mngidi, “Danger” Moloi, German “Cutter” Kunene, Daniel “Swing Carlie” Masike, John “Buick” Makwati, “Pro” Setshedi and Josiah “Banks” Cindi.

Other teammates at Vaal Professionals from 1971 to 1972 include the likes of Simon “Bull” Lehoko, Patrick “Mzozo” Maleke, Johannes “Satch” Modise, Sugar Lebeko, Simon “White Cat” Mosuoe, Kenneth “Conti” Kubeka and Alpheus “Matanta” Pule.

Sello says Chencha’s passion for football inspired him to partner with the late Abraham Phathang, a local businessman in the Vaal, to co-found his own team International Sporting FC, which campaigned in the Second Division of the NPSL. A prominent figure from Helepi’s team is Dr Molefi Oliphant, former president of Safa and current second-vice president of the CAF, who was the goalkeeper.

Sello says Helepi’s fond memories include goals scored against Lamontville Golden Arrows at Orlando Stadium in a league game which Mbanya Swallows won by 4-2.

“He remembered scoring brilliant goals to help his team win the match. His most memorable game was in 1972, while playing for Moroka Swallows Big XV, where he scored five superb goals against Randfontein Invitation,” says Sello.

He says a re-occurring knee injury forced Chencha into early retirement at 29.

Helepi was an active member of the South African Football Legends 70/80.

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