Text by Lebo ‘Leptie’ Phume
Photos by Lindeka Qampi & Zanele Muholi
For the past few days I have been shadowing Zanele Muholi and Lindeka Qampi while they do follow up’s of Faces and Phases series.
On October 30 we made a detour and attended the memorial service of Bafana-Bafana and Orlando Pirates Football Club captain Senzo ‘Nzori’ Meyiwa, South African record holder in athletics Mbulaeni ‘Silver bullet’ Mulaudzi and junior middleweight boxer Phindile ‘Zulu girl’ Mwelase.
In our arrival at the Standard Bank Arena it was full to capacity, I was humbled by the attendance of the community. It was rather embarrassing that Mamelodi Sundowns Football Club players and technical staff were more visible than Senzo’s team. It bothered me why they were not present at the service, only the former captain Lucky Lekgwathi sat next to Senzo’s injured “arch rival” captain of Kaizer Chiefs FC Itumeleng Khune.
The service was for three athletes yet it felt like it was only for Senzo. He was portrayed as a South African hero; to me he has not done much for the country besides his superb performances in his last four matches with Bafana-Bafana. What saddens me is that Mulaudzi was less recognized while he archived more than the two athletes.
His first global medal was a silver medal in 2000 African Championship, bronze in 2003 World Championships which followed a year after he won gold in 2002 Commonwealth Games, silver in 2003-07 All-Africa Games, gold medallist in 2004 IAAF World Indoor Championships. He went on to win two silver medals in 2006-08, runner up at the continental level on three occasions, he was a flag barrier for his native country at the opening ceremony of the 2004 Summer Olympics where he became a silver medallist.
During 2006-07 seasons he ranked first on time becoming the first black South African to achieve such feat.
All of his achievements were not mentioned in his one page shortcut obituary, while Senzo got a two page spread that includes his football history, fact files to his four clean sheets for Bafana that seem to be more important and his family life. I hate to compare the two but it is hard not to when the obituary was not written in an equal manner.
In my opinion this was a Senzo Meyiwa show, he has been a centre of attention since he has killed that Sunday evening and less on the other athletes whose deaths were as tragic.
There are other footballers that have lost their lives tragically and they didn’t receive as much attention from the media or the South African Football Association (SAFA). Not to a point where a statue will be build using firearms and be erected outside SAFA house. I do not think he deserve that, they might as well collect scrapped cars and build statues for all the football players who lost their lives in car accidents like Leslie Manyathela, Oscar Ntwagae and Gift Leremi just to name few.
An amount of R250 000 is offered as a reward to anyone who will help the South African Police Services (SAPS) to put the killers behind bars yet lesbian women get killed and not even R1000 will be offered to catch the killers. It shows in this country women will never be taken seriously. If only such efforts and dedication was applied to every case no matter how small or big it is, our country would be a safer place for everyone.
I do not want to blame my ignorance on the fact that I did not know anything about Phindile Mwelase, even though I am an athlete. I never knew when she was admitted in hospital just heard of her death. Even during the memorial service not much was said about her.
She started boxing in 2007 and turned professional in 2012 as a junior middleweight boxer and ranked second in her department. She fought in six paid professional fights where she lost five and drew one. Phindile is the first female boxer in South Africa to pass away as a result of an unfortunate defeat in the ring.
My deepest condolences to the friends and families of Senzo Meyiwa, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Phindile Mwelase.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (centred) by a friend and daughter on the right ‘was there to give support to the grieving families…