Fans still arriving for joint memorial

Sport fans continued to trickle into the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg on Thursday to pay homage to three fallen South African sporting icons.

Fans wearing sport regalia were still taking their seats by 12.30pm, ahead of the service. A small group started singing before the entire arena erupted into song and dance.

Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead on Sunday evening in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni, while visiting his singer girlfriend Kelly Khumalo. Two men allegedly entered the house and shot him before fleeing.

One of South Africa's star athletes and 800m sensation Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car accident in Mpumalanga on Friday. He was on his way to Johannesburg when he lost control of his car near Emalahleni.

Welterweight boxer Phindile Mwelase died on Saturday after being in a coma for two weeks following a bout.

Among the dignitaries assembling at the Standard Bank Arena were SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan, Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba, South African hammer throw legend Chris Harmse, and ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

According to the programme former Bafana Bafana captain Ithumeleng Khune and Pirates player Lucky Lekgwathi would pay tribute to Meyiwa.

Olympic long-jump silver medalist Khotso Mokoena and 800m silver medalist Hezekiel Sepeng would speak about Mulaudzi.

Actor, producer and Pirates fan Kenneth Nkosi said: "I am here because South Africa has lost a lot in one week, an athlete, boxer, and soccer player. It is really sad, even more sad is with the youngest man Senzo Meyiwa, because I'm an Orlando Pirates supporter," he said.

Nkosi said the manner in which Meyiwa was killed called for the nation to reflect and question his legacy. He said life was becoming cheaper in the country.

"It is becoming very easy for a person's life to be taken away in South Africa. I met and spent time with Senzo and he was very kind and charming and to lose someone like that is not good," he said.

Nkosi said street committees were needed to ensure the safety of residents. He said every family had to be involved in patrolling its neighbourhood.

"As South Africans we need to decide if we want our country to be like this -- be scared in our homes and cars. We must do something about this [crime] because this has happened to a lot of icons in the past," he said.

Nkosi conveyed his condolences and said the families were not alone in their grief.

Hendrik Mokganyetsi, former South African 400m record holder, said he could not contain his emotions when he heard about Mulaudzi.

"The day I received the message I couldn't come to grips with it and even today I can't digest it. It is a tragedy for the country and a tragedy to the athletics fraternity and he has left a vacuum," he said.

 

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