Senzo Meyiwa, the goalkeeper and captain of South Africa’s national football team, was killed during a robbery near Johannesburg on Oct. 26. The tragedy struck a chord with South African citizens and politicians, who seek solutions to South Africa’s high rate of violent crime. An estimated 47 people are murdered each day. As South Africa mourns the death of its football captain and moves to ensure his death was not in vain, here are 10 things you didn’t know about Senzo Meyiwa.
Sources: NYTimes.com, Citizen.co.za, FootballTop.com, WhosWho.co.za, BBC.com, SAPeople.com, News24.com, Sites.Google.com/UmlaziAcademy
Umlazi Soccer Academy has produced several star footballers, in addition to Meyiwa. These include Sandile Zuke of the Kaizer Chiefs and Mpumalanga Black Aces, Philani Khwela of SuperSport United, Calvin Sosibo of the Kaizer Chiefs, and Sthembiso Ntombela of the Durban Stars.
Meyiwa began his youth career playing striker for the London Cosmos. While representing his province at the Transnet Under-14 and Coca-Cola Under-17 Inter-Provincial tournaments in 2000, he was spotted by the Orlando Pirates Development Academy. Meyiwa quickly impressed the Academy with his keeping skills, and moved up to the first team for the 2005-2006 season.
Meyiwa and his wife, Mandisa Mkhize, were ending their relationship at the time of his death. In fact, the robbery took place at the home of Meyiwa’s girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, a South African pop singer. Meyiwa was quick to take full responsibility for his extramarital affair. “Kelly (his girlfriend) is a good woman,” he said. “She is not the reason for my marriage falling apart. This is all my fault. I lied to them (Khumalo and Mkhize). I approached her (Khumalo) and she asked if I was married. But I wasn’t man enough to tell her the truth. As a result, she fell in love with me.”
Meyiwa was described by friends and other professionals in the football world as a relaxed guy who was always modest and friendly. Regardless of his superstar status, he never spoke down to people, remained constantly accommodating, and treated everyone as equals.
South Africa Football Association President Danny Jordan helped launch a campaign calling for people to surrender their guns following Meyiwa’s death. Jordan said the association plans to melt down the weapons and create a statue of the goalkeeper as a memorial, but also as a testament to the work that needs to be done to curb gun violence in South Africa.
Many took to social media after Meyiwa’s death with the hashtag, #EnoughIsEnough. The sadness and shock following the star goalkeeper’s shooting initiated national mourning, but also outrage at the out-of-control violence that has wracked South Africa for years. An estimated 47 people are murdered every day.
Meyiwa allegedly had several children from different relationships – one with wife Mandisa Mkhize, one with girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, and others. Orlando Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza met with Meyiwa’s family to help work out his finances and a will, and to determine how best to allocate things among his children.
Following rumors and speculations after his son’s death, Sam Meyiwa attempted to put a gag order on the family’s spokespeople, saying, “They are no longer allowed to speak on behalf of the family. The family is mourning Senzo’s passing and nobody is allowed to discuss anything about his life in the media.”
In 2013, Meyiwa was included on the South African squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, but made no appearance. Before his death, however, Meyiwa played in three qualifying matches for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, his last match being a 0-0 draw against Congo in which he conceded no goals.
Having moved from the Pirates Development Academy to the first team, Meyiwa spent his entire career with the Orlando Pirates, and many assumed he would continue there for years to come. He was described as a “true Pirates man,” and many say, “Once a Buccaneer, always a Buccaneer.”