South Africa shocked by murder of national soccer captain

Mon Oct 27, 2014 9:20am EDT
 
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By Tiisetso Motsoeneng

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's national soccer goalkeeper and captain Senzo Meyiwa has been shot dead by burglars during a break-in, a killing that shocked the country and turned the spotlight once again on gun violence here.

At an emotional news conference on Monday, Meyiwa's colleagues paid tribute to the 27-year-old, who was hit by a single round in the chest on Sunday night as he confronted two intruders at the home of actress and singer Kelly Khumalo.

Meyiwa, who was shot in Vosloorus township southeast of Johannesburg, was dead on arrival at hospital, police said.

His death highlighted the problem of gun violence in South Africa only days after Paralympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius was jailed for five years for shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.

This weekend's Johannesburg derby between Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates - the club Meyiwa joined as a 13-year-old and ended up leading - was postponed as a mark of respect. The derby is usually played in front of 90,000 fans.

"Don't think such a good man as Senzo can go and vanish. His spirit will live," said Shakes Mashaba, coach of the Bafana Bafana national side, tears streaming down his cheeks and his voice quavering with emotion. "He would always be the leader."

Even though South Africa's murder rate has been gradually dropping, it remains one of the world's most violent countries, with police recording more than 17,000 murders last year, or 31 per 100,000 people - seven times the rate in the United States.

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Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa of South Africa's Orlando Pirates is beaten by a goal made by Mohamed Aboutrika of Egypt's Al Ahli during the first leg of their African Champions League final soccer match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko/Files