The international soccer community was stunned by the news that the captain of the South African national soccer team, goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, was killed by gunmen who broke into the house he was staying in near Johannesburg.
The shooting occurred around 8 p.m. Sunday, a day after Meyiwa had played goalie for his club team, the Orlando Pirates, in their 4-1 win over Ajax Cape Town. The Pirates are one of the most popular and successful South African football clubs.
Meyiwa, 27, was the captain of the South African national team in its four matches to qualify for the African Cup of Nations this year, including the 0-0 draw with Republic of Congo on Oct. 15, the team’s last game.
The Mirror reported that Meyiwa was killed after trying to stand up to a gang that raided his girlfriend’s home. Two gunmen entered the home in Vosloorus township near Johannesburg while an additional accomplice waited outside.
According to one report, the gang demanded Meyiwa’s mobile phone. After the altercation, they all fled on foot, according to a tweet by the national police force.
The police offered a reward of nearly $14,000 for information leading to arrests in Meyiwa’s death.
The Associated Press reported that there were seven other people in the house during the attack.
“This is a sad loss whichever way you look at it to Senzo’s family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation,” said Irvin Khoza, the chairman of the Pirates club.
Meyiwa’s murder came just three days after another shocking death hit South Africa: former 800-meter world champion runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash Friday. South African President Jacob Zuma said of Mulaudzi, “the nation has lost a true hero.”
The youth league of South Africa’s ruling party sent condolences to the families of Meyiwa and Mulaudzi, saying “their premature passing is indeed a great loss to the country and sporting nation.”
“Beyond devastated at the loss of our captain & friend Senzo Meyiwa. thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends at this terrible time,” Dean Furman, Meyiwa’s international teammate who also plays for Doncaster Rovers, said in a tweet.
Darren Keet, a fellow South African goalkeeper who plays for Belgian club KV Kortrijk, called Meyiwa’s killing sad for the nation.
“Deeply saddening to hear this news about our captain and friend,” he said, adding that Meyiwa would be “missed, but never forgotten.”
Meyiwa made headlines a year ago when he was embroiled in an embarrassing incident involving his former wife and his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo. Khumalo wound up in jail, charged with assault, after she was involved in a roadside fight with Meyiwa’s wife, Mandisa Mkhize, in Johannesburg.
“Kelly is a good woman. She is not the reason for my marriage falling apart,” Meyiwa told Sunday World last October. “This is all my fault. I lied to them [Khumalo and Mkhize].
“I approached her [Khumalo] and she asked if I was married,” he said. “But I wasn’t man enough to tell her the truth. As a result, she fell in love with me. I haven’t given a statement to the police because of my schedule. But they said they are continuing the case without me. I won’t go into detail about what happened that night, but they [Khumalo and Mkhize] did not know about each other.”