War of words breaks out between SA sports bosses and Anele Ngcongca's grieving family

Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa during the launch of Heritage Month 2020 at Ditsong Cultural Museum on September 7, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Minister of sports, arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa during the launch of Heritage Month 2020 at Ditsong Cultural Museum on September 7, 2020 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Nathi Mthethwa

South Africans were left stunned on Wednesday as a war of words continued between the sports ministry and Anele Ngcongca's grieving family.

Sports personality Robert Marawa has also weighed in over the saga.

Ngcongca died in a car crash on the N2 outside Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast last week‚ and his funeral has been postponed to next week.

Tension rose when the Cape Town-born player's family accused sports minister Nathi Mthethwa and the Western Cape provincial government of snubbing them following the death of the former Bafana Bafana and Mamelodi Sundowns star.

Anele's sister‚ Siyasanga‚ fired a salvo at Mthethwa and provincial MEC Anroux Marais on social media on Wednesday‚ and said the much-loved player was being celebrated in Belgium while there's been very little recognition of the sacrifices he made for his country. Anele spent almost a decade with KRC Genk‚ which has retired his iconic number 16 jersey in the wake of the tragedy.

But the sports ministry fired back through Mthethwa’s spokesperson Masechaba Khumalo later in the day‚ when she disclosed that Anele's mother was ill and this was the reason behind the minister's failure to visit the family. Controversially‚ Khumalo stated the exact nature of the illness.

“For this reason‚ the funeral has also been moved for next week‚" she in a Whatsapp message to TimesLIVE.

"Sundowns has provided R100‚ 000 and the provincial department of sport provided R40‚000. Thabo [Tutu‚ the director of sport promotion in the department of cultural affairs and sport in the Western Cape] is part of the organising committee and has been working with a team lead by a family person and looking at quotes‚ etc.

"He advises that the above funds will be sufficient to cover costs."

The message was also communicated on her Twitter account and this sparked a furious reaction from social media users who felt that she had revealed medical information - apparently without the family's consent.

Khumalo further said that the family wanted 20‚000 mourners to attend the funeral while they wanted strict Covid-19 protocols to be observed with just 100 people allowed.

“The family is of the view that there must be 20000 people at the event‚" she said.

"They were told that it must be confined to 100 people as per the COVID protocol. Thabo is arranging to meet with the sister who is going on social media and was on radios to request her not to be reckless and withdraw her statements.”

Siyasanga had said in a series of tweets earlier in the day that only transport minister Fikile Mbalula turned up at the family home in Cape Town to offer his condolences.

“It’s sad to see Anele Ngcongca’s life celebrated in Belgium and not in South Africa. Sport minister has not made any contact with the family‚ MEC of CT has said nothing. The people of Gugulethu [in Cape Town] are disappointed. We as a family are disappointed.

“This man played for the World Cup and Bafana Bafana with 50 Caps‚ but there’s silence. @MbalulaFikile is the only Minister that came to meet the family‚” said Siyasanga.

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