Lebese had Aids
THE family of former Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows star Thabang Lebese revealed last night that the soccer player died of HIV-Aids complications.
Lebese was buried on Friday after he died at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg 12 days ago.
Fana Chabangu, who disclosed the 38-year-old's cause of death, spoke on behalf of the Lebese family and told national radio station Metro FM that the player had planned to reveal his status once he was discharged from the hospital.
Chabangu said the family wanted to end speculation regarding what had led to Lebese, who was capped once by Bafana, being admitted to the government hospital a month before he died.
"He would have wanted it this way. Shortly before he died, he told his mother that he had something big to tell her, but unfortunately he was not able to make it. He had already told some of his friends about his HIV status."
Chabangu said "Chillies", as Lebese was popularly known in South African football circles, worked closely with the Show Me Your Number initiative, counselling scores of people affected by HIV.
"By coming out, we want to say to people, if you are like Thabang, please don't be shy. Rather speak to someone close to you than suffer on your own," Chabangu said on the radio show last night.
Unaware of the real reasons behind Lebese's illness, the family themselves had accused Helen Joseph Hospital of gross negligence on February 22, the day Lebese died. The family claimed his condition had worsened after being admitted, but the Gauteng department of health denied this.
Lebese, who won the 2002 Premier League title with Pirates, was admitted to hospital complaining of a "stiff neck and terrible headache".
In a tell-all interview with a Sunday newspaper in January, Lebese, who featured in 279 top-flight football matches in his 13-year glittering career, said he had wasted all his money.