Robber shoots dead S. Africa's football captain
SOUTH Africa's rampant gun violence is once again under the microscope following the slaying of Senzo Meyiwa, captain of the nation's football team.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper was shot dead by intruders on Sunday while trying to protect his girlfriend during a robbery at her home near Johannesburg, officials said yesterday.
"Words cannot express the nation's shock at this loss," said South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, amid a national outpouring of grief yesterday. He called on the police to "leave no stone unturned in finding his killers" and bringing them to justice.
Meyiwa died after suffering a single shot through the chest at the home of girlfriend Kelly Khumalo, a local actress and singer, in the township of Vosloorus.
"Two guys entered the house and demanded cellphones, money and other valuables," provincial community safety official Sizakele Nkosi-Malubane told reporters at the scene. "Senzo tried to protect Kelly because one of the men had a gun pointed towards her."
Police said two men entered Khumalo's house at about 8pm local time. A third waited outside the house and all three fled immediately after the shooting.
Other people in the house were unharmed.
Meyiwa was declared dead on arrival at a hospital, police added.
South Africa coach Ephraim Mashaba comforted several of Meyiwa's teammates who arrived at the hospital shortly after the shooting.
"We can assure all South Africans that we will do all we can to bring Meyiwa's killers (to) book," the South African Police Service said on its Twitter account, offering a reward of 150,000 rand (S$17,500).
Meyiwa captained South Africa in their last four matches in the African Nations Cup qualifiers without conceding a goal. He last played on Saturday, when his club, Soweto giants Orlando Pirates, advanced to the semi-finals of the South African League Cup.
"This is a sad loss whichever way you look at it: to Senzo's family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation," Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said.
Dennis Mumble, chief executive of the South African Football Association, said: "The country is crying."
Meyiwa's death has further highlighted South Africa's gun violence less than a week after Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius was given a five-year jail sentence for culpable homicide after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year.
News of the latest shooting prompted widespread sympathy and soul-searching on social media. "How do you kill someone for a cellphone?" tweeted national teammate Tsepo Masilela.
Belgium-based goalkeeper Darren Keet, who had been Meyiwa's understudy over the last four internationals, tweeted: "When does it STOP South Africa?"
More than 17,000 people were murdered in South Africa between April last year and March this year, an increase of about 800 over the previous year, according to police figures.