Goodbye Khumalo Boi

2014-07-08 00:00

THE flood of grief for Jake Smith ­began moments after his death on Sunday, when a female friend “lost it” and punched a professional soccer star at the scene.

Yesterday, about 100 friends and fans of his motorsport talent gathered to lay flowers and hear prayers at the scene of his bizarre murder in Pietermaritzburg. And thousands will celebrate the high-speed life of the man known as “Khumalo Boi” at public events to be held in his honour this week, including a major “drifting” motorsport competition, a nightclub mega-party, and a ­funeral.

The 23-year-old was stabbed to death following an alleged assault at the drive-thru of a KFC outlet, which was triggered when he and a friend were wrongly accused of jumping the queue of motorists at the 24-hour service window.

Yesterday, The Witness revealed that Maritzburg United’s star Dutch footballer, Orlando Smeekes, was involved in the initial argument and scuffle with Smith. Smeekes’s driver will appear in court today on charges relating to the killing.

From Mpophomeni township to inner city Durban and the elite suburbs of Maritzburg, a huge and remarkably diverse group of friends yesterday voiced their shock and sadness.

Some agreed that Smith — who was fluent in Zulu, and dedicated to inspiring township youth — was set to become “the Johnny Clegg of motorsport” in South Africa.

Nunu Majola — one of the mourners who gathered at the KFC drive-thru in Armitage Road — said Smith would be remembered in Midlands townships as a transformative hero.

“He was a character: you would introduce him to the person, the next day, you will find him with that [same] person,” said Majola. “When we were growing up we feared white people and did not associate with them, but he showed us there was nothing to fear.”

His mother, Anne Smith — a hospital clerk — attended the gathering, but did not wish to speak publicly.

Jake Smith — a salesperson — was a former BMX racing champion and ­engine-roaring “spinner” who was due to participate in his first official “drifting” event this weekend.

Clair Goosen — a fellow staff member at Steel and Pipe Trading — was inconsolable at the street event yesterday. “Things that would get me down for weeks, he would never allow them to get to him,” she said.

Alarms technician Buhle Nkabini (28) said: “Khumalo Boi was special, my broer. He was able to interact with everyone; he loved to entertain. I was so sad to hear this; I have no words.”

A witness to the attack, Kim Houghton, said she had lashed out at Smeekes after the driver had left the scene. “I started hitting Orlando on the head; a police woman made me stop,” said Houghton. “I was so angry — to see Jake on the ground, treated like a dog. He was the life of the party, and he lit up our lives.”

Earlier, Smeekes — who tried to help Smith as he lay dying — said he was “very sad” about the death, but that “I cannot be blamed for another person’s anger”. He said he would not give further comment.

Kurt Volmink, head of PMB Drifters, said the Tiger Tiger nightclub — where Smith spent his last evening — would host a dedication event for the music-loving victim this weekend.

“He lived his life to the full and always took chances. He loved spinning in different areas, from Sobantu to Imbali and Mpophomeni. He had more black friends than he had white friends.”

Deon Olivier, who lived with Smith for the last three years, said: “He seemed to be very hard but he had a very soft heart.”

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