'Slow Poison' laid to rest
Musina, Limpopo - The body of Orlando Pirates striker Lesley 'Slow Poison' Manyathela was laid to rest in his home town of Musina in Limpopo on Saturday afternoon.
Traffic in Musina came to a standstill when the large funeral procession made its way to the town's cemetery. Many of the mourners chose to walk to the grave site while others stood along side the road waving flags that bore Manyathela's image.
The pall-bearers were Sport and Recreation Minister Ngconde Balfour, Limpopo premier Ngoako Ramatlhodi, SA Football Association president Molefi Oliphant, Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza, and Sundowns boss Patrice Motsepe.
Emotions ran high when the coffin was lowered into the ground.
"My boy you were my father and my brother, how could God do this to me," his mother sobbed.
The 22-year-old Manyathela, who was affectionately known as 'Slow Poison', died in a car accident on the N1 highway outside Musina last Saturday.
Manyathela, who graduated from the South African Under-20 team and played a major role in Bafana Bafana, was on his way home to Musina after scoring Pirates' only goal in a 2-1 defeat by Jomo Cosmos, in a SAA Supa 8 game played at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg earlier that afternoon.
He topped the charts with 22 goals, helping Pirates to win the Premier Soccer League in the 2002/2003 season and had just returned from trials in France.
Thousands of mourners attended a service to honour the player at Nancefield stadium earlier in the day.
Khoza praised Manyathela saying he had accomplished much in his short career.
"As a young man who probably knew he did not have much time, he made his mark in just three years and his untimely death came when his fullest potential was yet to be realised in Europe," Khoza said.
He also recalled a conversation he had with Manyathela hours before he died.
"He told me he wanted to build a house for his family," Khoza said.
Although attendance at Pirates' games has been poor recently, the stadium was packed to capacity by fans of many clubs, who stood motionless during the proceedings. Supporters from as far as Soweto and Alexandra attended the service.
Khoza told the mourners that many messages of condolences had been received by the club including messages from the Confederation of African Football and FIFA, which showed that South Africa was not alone in its grief.
Manyathela is survived by two children, his parents, two brothers, a sister and grandparents.