Penwell Dlamini and Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Penwell Dlamini and Ramatsiyi Moholoa

A promising young soccer star and son of former Orlando Pirates striker Mandla Sithole has been found dead with his girlfriend in a student residence at the Vaal University of Technology.

Siphiwe Khumalo, 23, was found hanging from a towel in a room at Maruba students residence, with his girlfriend Nonhlanhla Kunene, 23, sprawled on the floor with a stab wound.

Inspector Jinnie Steyn said one of the students smelt a foul stench coming from the room and informed a security guard.

"The room was locked and the guard had to break down the door to gain access to the room," said Steyn.

She said the guard found the two bodies in an advanced state of decomposition.

Police suspect that Khumalo committed suicide.

It is believed that the two died at the weekend because that was the last time some of their friends saw them.

Khumalo had just completed his diploma in sports management and was to graduate next month.

He was also a South African under-23 striker. At the time of his death he was playing for the Vaal University of Technology's team, which campaigns in the Vodacom League.

Confusion prevailed at Khumalo's home in Meadowlands, Soweto as friends and family were reeling from shock.

"Siphiwe was a good boy. He did not smoke or drink. I don't understand how he could do such a thing," said Thembi Mhlungu, Khumalo's aunt.

The family described Khumalo as a staunch Catholic who had a good relationship with his father Sithole and his girlfriend Kunene.

"Mandla last spoke to my nephew on Friday and he promised to come home at the weekend," said Mhlungu.

Barney Kujane, South African under-23 project manager, said: "We are all saddened about Siphiwe's untimely death.

"He was an aggressive striker. He had an appetite to score and also knew how to position himself in front of goals."

He has represented the country at the under-23 level after coming through the Wonke Wonke project four years ago.

Khumalo made his debut for South Africa against Lesotho in Maseru two years ago, where the game ended in a goalless draw.