PMB star in restaurant tragedy

2014-07-07 00:00


FORMER Maritzburg Unitedsoccer star Orlando Smeekes was involved in a bizarre fast food-rage incident that ended in the murder of a popular Pietermaritzburg man yesterday.

Twenty-three-year-old Jake Smith — a Carter High old boy — was stabbed to death in front of fellow customers after he was falsely accused of jumping the queue in the drive-thru lane of a KFC outlet in Pietermaritzburg. Yesterday, police arrested the driver of Maritzburg United’s imported Dutch star, Smeekes, in connection with the killing.

Meanwhile, within hours of the news circulating on social media, over 100 Facebook tributes flooded in for Smith, a respected motorsport and cycling enthusiast who was due to drive in a major KZN event next week.

Yesterday, Smith’s friend, Robin Volmink, said the incident began at 4 am when they decided to stand at the KFC 24 hour drive-thru window in Armitage Road, while waiting for Volmink’s girlfriend to drive up in the customers’ queue. “To lose a fantastic person like Jake over something so stupid — I can hardly believe what I saw,” he said.

Volmink alleged that Smeekes — “thinking we had jumped the queue” — emerged from a car second in the line, walked to the same window and asked the cashier not to serve the two men.

He said Smith — who was returning from an evening with friends at the Tiger Tiger nightclub — argued with Smeekes at the window, and then walked back to the footballer’s car to continue his complaint. Volmink alleged: “Jake took exception. We told him we hadn’t even ordered anything; [Jake] didn’t like the way the guy behaved.

“The guy kept saying ‘Don’t you know who I am?’”, Volmink claims.

A KFC employee, who asked not to be named, said the argument had moved back down the line of cars while she was assisting another customer: “They argued that [Smith] was jumping the queue; I left them there and went to look for change,” she said.

Volmink alleged that the two men then had a physical altercation next to Smeekes’s hired green Toyota Corolla, and that Smeekes’s driver then joined the fray.

“I was trying to pull Orlando off, and then I heard my girlfriend screaming that [the driver] had a knife,” he said. “The next thing, Jake was stumbling back to where our car was and collapsed.”

All witnesses interviewed by the paper agreed that Smeekes was not involved with the stabbing itself, while SAPS sources confirmed that the player co-operated fully with investigators.

Volmink alleged that — as he called for police and amulance assistance — the driver sped away, and that Smeekes rushed over and attempted to help Smith.

Yesterday, Smeekes told The Witness “it’s true that I tried to help the guy” but declined to comment on the details of the incident.

However, the 32-year-old star said: “I feel very sorry for what is happening. I feel so bad for the family; he is so young. [But] I can’t be blamed for another person’s anger. And is it not strange that I am here free if I am the bad person? Many people know me; they know if there is one person who would not want to be in this type situation, it is me. I told the police everything. The cab driver handed himself in.” Smeekes would not confirm the alleged physical altercation, but, instead, he said: “I come from the Netherlands where you can have a fight and its finished; that’s it. But a stabbing? No! It is scary.”

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said a case of murder is being investigated.

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