Pressing Issues: Was Senzo Meyiwa a cheat?

2014-12-14 15:00

I find it quite disturbing that no one has come out to deny a report that appeared in City Press’ sister ­publication Sunday Sun on November?23 under the headline “Senzo a ­soccer cheat!”

The article stated that, according to the register of Cwebezela Senior ­Primary School, slain Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper and ­captain Senzo Meyiwa was born on ­January 24 1984.

This was in contradiction to the ­September 24 1987 date of birth that appeared on ­Meyiwa’s ­“official documents” and is inscribed on his tombstone.

If true, this in effect made Senzo three years, eight months younger.

The Sunday Sun story (accompanied by a picture) also stated that the part with the dates of birth and death inscribed on the tombstone of Meyiwa’s late twin brother, ­Siya, had been ­removed.

Upon inquiry, the Sun ­reporters were reportedly told by employees at the Umlazi Cemetery that Senzo and ­Siya’s ­father, Sam Meyiwa, had come in the morning of the ­famous goalkeeper’s funeral and ­removed the headstone.

On being approached, ­Meyiwa senior was reported to have sworn at the ­reporters, accusing them of harassing his family. He even warned: “Don’t mess with the spirit of the dead because you will be cursed.”

This I find strange because it would have been very easy for Mr Meyiwa to simply invite the journalists to his home and show them his twin sons’ birth certificates – unless, of course, he had something to hide.

The reason I am disturbed is that, three weeks since the Sunday Sun story ran, no one – either from the Meyiwa family or from the soccer fraternity – has come out to deny the story or prove it’s factually incorrect.

Age-cheating is such a terrible scourge in soccer, global football ­governing body Fifa is doing its best to uproot it. The world association even introduced the mandatory use of MRI scanning at the 2009 Under-17 World Cup to help ascertain whether players were overage or not.

This method is considered to be 99% accurate until the age of 17, after which it becomes difficult for medical professionals to calculate a person’s age.

South Africa has cried foul several times that junior teams from other parts of the continent do not look their ages. It’s an open secret and a standing joke that a number of players, more ­especially from west Africa, have a “real age” as well as a “soccer age”.

In Meyiwa’s case, should the accessions about his age be correct, it means that when he played for the junior teams, he was three years and eight months older than his team-mates.

Can you imagine a player who is ­older than 17 years playing with those who are under 13? An awkward ­disparity, isn’t it?

It also raises questions about other players.

But I can’t imagine a 17-year-old waking up one day and deciding: “I want to be 13.” Rather, it will be a teacher, a junior coach or some unscrupulous talent scout who will connive and influence an impressionable youngster to alter his age.

The process would involve getting a new “birth certificate” to suit the “new age”.

This kind of fraud is a process and if people who engage in it are not caught, it will go on – to the detriment of our football.

This is where football authorities and law enforcement agencies come in.

The starting point would be to investigate the Meyiwa case.

If it proves to be true, find out who helped him alter his age and charge the person(s) – who might still be operating in football circles – with fraud and get them jailed if found guilty.

This would send out a strong ­message.

It would also help if ubaba Sam ­Meyiwa comes clean and sets things straight with us all.

If not, Senzo, who is lying at the ­Heroes Acre in Chesterville alongside the likes of acclaimed journalist Nat ­Nakasa, will not rest in peace.

And this would contradict Meyiwa senior’s advice not to mess with the spirit of the dead.

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