Senzo Meyiwa, captain and goal keeper of South Africa’s football team, was shot dead on Sunday during a robbery at the home of his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo.
The 27 year old father, who played for the Orlando Pirates as well as South Africa’s national team, was attacked by a group of three men who entered Khumalo’s house in Vosloorus, near Johannesburg at around 8pm.
The robbers demanded their mobile phones and valuables before shooting Meyiwa in the chest and fleeing the scene.
‘Two guys entered the house and demanded cellphones, money and other valuables,’ provincial Community Safety official Sizakele Nkosi-Malubane said.
‘Senzo tried to protect Kelly because one of the men had a gun pointed towards her.’
He was taken to hospital, but was pronounced dead as soon as he arrived. The funeral is expected to take place on Saturday.
“We mourn the death of this young footballer and team leader whose life has been taken away at the prime of his career,” South African president Jacob Zuma, who led Meyiwa’s tributes, said.
“The law enforcement authorities must leave no stone unturned in finding his killers and bring them to justice. Words cannot express the nation’s shock at this loss.”
Police have released a computerised image of the suspected intruders and are offering a 250,000 rand (£14,000) reward for any information that leads to the criminals’ arrests.
Outpourings of grief, outrage and condolences have emerged on social media following the announcement of Meyiwa’s death, with several of his team mates expressing their shock at this sudden loss.
South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula released a statement saying:
‘We have already interacted with the president of SAFA, Dr Danny Jordaan, Dr Irvin Khoza at Orlando Pirates as well as the father of Senzo Meyiwa.
‘We humbly encourage all individuals who have any information on the whereabouts of these thugs to co-operate fully with the police on the urgent apprehension of these shameless individuals.
‘We urge the police to leave no stone unturned in apprehending the thugs as a matter of urgency. Our society will never be at peace until the suspects have been arrested and been brought under the wrath of the country’s legal system.
‘We would like to convey our heartfelt condolences to Senzo Meyiwa’s family, his club, Orlando Pirates, the nation and the entire football and sporting fraternity.’
‘’The death of Senzo Meyiwa has robbed this country of an icon and a legend in the making.’
South Africa has seen a surge of violence of the last year with official figures showing a 5% rise in attempted murder cases between 2013 and 2014 with around 17,000 murders taking place between March 2013 and April 2014, an average of 47 murders a day.