JOHANNESBURG - South African police have offered a reward of $23,000 for information that could lead to the killers of the country's national soccer captain, Senzo Meyiwa. Police say unknown assailants stormed into a house in Johannesburg and shot the top footballer before fleeing on foot. Tributes are pouring from all over the country, with soccer lovers describing his death as a great loss to the game of football.
South African National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega told reporters that Senzo Meyiwa was shot on Sunday evening at a house in Johannesburg where he was visiting friends.
She said it appeared two unknown assailants stormed into the house and shot Meyiwa in the upper body when he moved towards the door. The assailants stole a cellphone before fleeing on foot.
Meyiwa was rushed to hospital and declared dead on arrival.
Phiyega said top detectives have been assigned to investigate this as a case of murder and robbery. She has vowed that the police will not rest till the suspects are brought to justice.
“We want to express once more our condolences to the family, friends and the soccer fraternity at the sudden and untimely death of Senzo Meyiwa, and we want to assure the nation that we as police, we are giving it our all, we will not leave any stone unturned as we investigate this matter,” said Phiyega.
South African President Jacob Zuma has called for police to "leave no stone unturned" in finding the killers of national soccer captain Senzo Meyiwa and bringing them to justice.
Zuma made the statement Monday, saying "words cannot express the nation's shock" at the loss.
The 27-year-old Meyiwa was captain and goal keeper of the national team, Bafana Bafana, and played for a leading Premier Soccer League team, the Orlando Pirates.
Bafana Bafana Coach Shakes Mashaba described Meyiwa’s death as a great loss to the entire football fraternity.
“We [are] gonna miss Senzo a lot, let alone his playing style and saving goals. Senzo is a team player. Senzo is everything. He carried the team through the Africa Cup. He is the best goalkeeper,” said Mashaba.
And Orlando Pirates Chairman Irvin Khoza said the entire team was in shock and mourning.
“As Orlando Pirates Football Club, we are devastated. We had a session in the morning with the players, because he was too close to all of us, Senzo Meyiwa. There was a lot of sobbing and crying. It was uncontrollable," he said.
Dennis Mumble, the chief executive officer of the South African Football Association, has appealed to the nation to celebrate late soccer star’s achievements, describing him as a rising star gone too soon.
“It is really a very, very, sad time for us it is a very difficult time for us, the impact that he has had not just locally but worldwide. And that’s why we do encourage everybody that we need to mourn but we also have to celebrate," he said.
South Africans from all walks of life have taken to social networks bemoaning the country’s spiraling crime and calling on the government to act fast.