Sam Meyiwa only wanted one 'gift': To know who killed his son. It was a gift he never received

Police minister Bheki Cele speaks to journalists outside the Meyiwa home in Umlazi on Tuesday.
Police minister Bheki Cele speaks to journalists outside the Meyiwa home in Umlazi on Tuesday.
Image: Jackie Clausen

Murdered goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa's dad, Sam Meyiwa, was so desperate to find out who killed his son that he even made an impassioned plea to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Meyiwa was so frustrated at the slow pace of the investigation into the murder of the Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain that he directly approached Ramaphosa to help speed up the process.

Ramaphosa, in turn, immediately instructed his police minister, Bheki Cele, to treat the case with priority.

But it was all too late. Meyiwa died this week, having never known who was responsible for killing his son.

Cele revealed the desperate plea during his visit to the family's home in Umlazi, south of Durban, on Tuesday to express his condolences after Meyiwa's death. He also wanted to brief the family about the progress of the investigation.

"Senzo’s father went to the president and said, 'Can you give me the gift of knowing what happened to my son before I die?' The president called me and gave me very strict instructions," said Cele.

He said that when he attended the first soccer tournament in memory of the late soccer star at Umlazi’s King Zwelithini Stadium in June last year, Meyiwa had poured his heart about his son’s murder.

“It was a discussion with him after the president had given me instructions. At the end of April I came to this house personally and briefed the parents. Unfortunately, the mother is sitting today where the father was sitting. And we briefed the family and said, 'We’re going to resolve the case,'” said Cele.

Meyiwa, 66, died in the early hours of Monday at his home after suffering a second stroke. He had been bed-ridden after suffering his first stroke in August last year, which is believed to have been as a result of the pain and stress he suffered after Senzo's murder.

Senzo was gunned down in Volsoorus, east of Johannesburg, in October 2014 in the presence of his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, her mother, her sister Zandi, Zandi’s boyfriend Longwe Twala, his friends Mthokozisi Twala and Tumelo Madlala, and their son Christian, who was four years old at the time.

But five years later, the police have achieved nothing in their investigation except for the botched arrest of Zamokuhle Mbatha, who lives in Vosloorus, near Khumalo’s home.

Cele, who announced publicly during a television interview in January that the mystery of Meyiwa's death would be solved before Easter, told reporters at the Meyiwa home that he had held two meetings with new National Prosecuting Authority boss Shamilla Batohi to brief her about the case.

He also revealed that he had daily engagements with justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola about the case.

“So the narrative that says there is nothing being done about the case is out of order. If people had known how much energy, how much effort, including emotions, that have been put in this case, we would not really be speaking what they are talking about,” said Cele.

The police minister said he and police commissioner Khehla Sitole had established a special team to deal with Senzo’s murder as the case was “highly, highly prioritised”.

"The case is on the table of both the prosecution and the police. As I have said, maybe what I will not do this time is to give timelines. What I will do this time, and stand by, is that the case will be resolved. We hope that by that time we will go and say to baba Meyiwa [Sam Meyiwa], 'Baba Meyiwa, here we are now, you can sleep and rest'," he said.

Cele said it pained him that he had seen Meyiwa and spoken to him a few months ago. Meyiwa had poured his heart out about the lack of progress in the police investigation.

"He cried about this matter as Mama cried today. So it’s a matter we understand. So no matter what you think about it, but nobody should say there is nothing being done about the case. What makes it difficult, maybe it’s a story we will tell you one day, but for now the focus is that the case must be resolved,” Cele said.

Meyiwa’s wife, Ntombifuthi, broke down when Cele entered the family’s lounge where she was seated on the floor covered in a blanket. He spent more than half an hour briefing the grieving widow and her family about the progress of the investigation.

Cele promised the family that he would continue meeting with them until Senzo’s murder was solved.

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