Unruly Gift Leremi angers gods with name swap

Ntwaagae Seleka

Ntwaagae Seleka

Truant Orlando Pirates midfielder Gift Leremi's wayward behaviour is the work of angry ancestors, said his worried granny and his mom.

His grandmother, Mirriam Matsemela, 62, yesterday begged "The Ghost", as Pirates supporters are known , to be patient with the nimble-footed star because he is "troubled".

"He is faced with problems that he can't solve on his own. It is time his family moved in to solve them," she said.

Leremi made headlines again last week when a warrant of arrest was issued against him after he failed to appear in court on charges of assault.

It is understood he is now so broke that he could not afford taxi fare to attend the hearing.

Leremi's troubles at Bucs began about two years ago when his numerous disappearing acts, absconding from training and going on drinking sprees, resulted in him being sidelined.

Matsemela said their ancestors were angry with Leremi because he had dumped their surname without first performing the proper traditional rituals.

"His parents are not married so a traditional ceremony should have been held before he assumed his father's surname," she said.

Matsemela said she had brought up the controversial midfielder at Orange Farm, on the Vaal since she moved there with him in 1992.

"We stayed here together and he used to promise that when he became a soccer star, he would look after me," she said.

Matsemela still lives in a two-roomed shack she shared with the soccer wizard. In front of the shack is the shell of an incomplete four-roomed house she is building.

She said when she laid the foundations for the house, Leremi had promised to finance the building, but did not fulfil his promise.

She is battling to complete the house on her monthly pension of a little more than R800.

"This is where he started to play soccer at a very young age," said Matsemela.

She said her family had been emotionally affected by Leremi's much-publicised wayward behaviour.

To make matters worse, she said, it had made her a laughing stock in the community.

"Whenever they pass on the street, they say I live in a lousy shack while my grandchild is a famous soccer star who makes money," said Matsemela.

Leremi's mother, Mmabatho Matsemela, 38, said the family was not after his money, but only wanted to help him.

"It hurts to see negative things said about my son in the newspapers. We have to save my boy," she cried.

Yesterday Leremi told Sowetan: "I don't have any problems with going through the traditional ceremony."