Africa

Senzo Meyiwa killing sparks South Africa outrage

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Media captionTributes have been pouring in to Senzo Meyiwa

As South Africans mourn the death of much loved football star, Senzo Meyiwa, his killing has sparked outrage about crime in the country, writes the BBC's Pumza Fihlani.

While crime is a big problem in South Africa, there is something about being attacked at home that makes the violation even worse.

The shock was summed up by Senzo Meyiwa's team mate Tsepo Masilela, who tweeted: "How do you kill someone for a cellphone?"

Other South Africans have taken to social networking sites to offer messages of support to the family of the football captain, who died after he was shot by intruders on Sunday night.

"Senzo Meyiwa is dead! Am at a loss for words! What society are we living in! The death of humanity! Anarchy set loose! Senzo lives in memory," prominent lawyer Vusi Pikoli tweeted.

The 27-year-old was reportedly trying to protect his girlfriend, the musician Kelly Khumalo, from burglars in Vosloorus, a working-class township where people often commute into Johannesburg for work.

His death has shaken even those in the highest office.

"We mourn the death of this young footballer and team leader whose life has been taken away at the prime of his career," President Jacob Zuma said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Orlando Pirate fans are distraught and shocked by the killing of their goalkeeper
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Neighbours of Kelly Khumalo, Meyiwa's girlfriend, gathered outside her house

"The law enforcement authorities must leave no stone unturned in finding his killers and bring them to justice," his statement said.

Officials were keen to show that they were doing just that - offering a reward of 250,000 rand (£14,141; $22,790) for information, which is not unheard of but is still unusual in South Africa.

Affectionately known as Okpara Jnr - named after Nigerian goalkeeper William Okpara who played for his Orlando Pirates team from 1989 to 2005 - he has been described as humble, dedicated and hard working.

The opposition Democratic Alliance described him as "a national symbol to every single South African".

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) - in opposition in KwaZulu Natal province - said his death was a sharp reminder of the country's crime problem.

"As a nation, we must take a stand against violent crime because it affects us all. The death of Meyiwa unfortunately highlights how communities live in fear for their lives," South Africa's Times newspaper quotes IFP MP Petros Sithole as saying.

'Senseless'

Messages of love have also poured in from the wider sports community.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter tweeted: "Thoughts with family, players and fans of Orlando Pirates and South Africa. A senseless, tragic loss."


Who was Senzo Meyiwa?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Senzo Meyiwa began playing for Orlando Pirates in 2005 and went on to captain the national team
  • Born on 24 September 1987
  • Goalkeeper for Johannesburg club Orlando Pirates
  • Made his international debut in June 2013
  • Appointed South Africa captain in September 2014
  • Seven international caps

Meyiwa was 'one of the best goalkeepers in Africa'


Corne Krige, South Africa's ex-rugby captain, also took to Twitter to express his shock: "As a nation we must start standing up against violent crime. Prayers go out to family."

Irvin Khoza, who owns the Orlando Pirates, one of Soweto's oldest teams, said: "This is a sad loss which ever way you look at it - to Senzo's family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation."

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in in the world. According to the latest police statistics, 47 people are killed in the country each day.

Some gains have been made in recent years but crime levels are still a cause for concern, critics say.

'Selective justice is not justice'

The police, who are frequently criticised for their handling of investigations, have been eager to show that they have a firm handle on the situation.

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, flanked by high-ranking officers, told a press conference that a special taskforce would be investigating the case and appealed to the public for urgent assistance.

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Media captionA reward has been offered for information leading to the arrest of Senzo Meyiwa's killer

For some, the speedy police response has been admirable, but others have raised accusations of preferential treatment.

There is a perception that those with money or celebrity are treated differently by authorities, which critics say was the case in the trial of South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius.

"It takes a famous person before Riah Phiyega sets up special tasks team to investigate murders?" South African Tshepang Sebulela tweeted.

Lemohang Biko, from KwaZulu Natal, agreed: "Selective justice is not justice."

Meanwhile some fans of the footballer have launched scathing attacks against his girlfriend.

The pair made local headlines the last year after it emerged that Meyiwa had fathered a child with Ms Khumalo despite being married and having a family with someone else.

The police have quickly quashed suggestions that his death may have been a contract killing, saying there is no evidence of this.

But in other ways his death has united the country.

South Africans want justice for their hero - and are calling for authorities to do more to make ordinary citizens safe in their homes.

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