1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Suspect charged over murder of SA football captain

October 31, 2014

A suspect has appeared in a South African court over the shooting death of national soccer captain Senzo Meyiwa. The footballer's murder has put the focus on the high level of gun crime in South Africa.

Senzo Robert Meyiwa diving before a goal
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

The male suspect, named as 25-year-old Zanokuhle Mbatha, was arrested after witnesses identified him in a lineup, police said on Friday.

The National Prosecuting Authority said Mbatha made a brief appearance in the Boksburg Magistrate court east of Johannesburg on Friday afternoon, facing charges including murder and robbery. He is expected to remain behind bars until his next court appearance on November 11.

Senzo Meyiwa, South Africa's national football captain and goalkeeper, was gunned down by burglars who broke into his girlfriend's house near Johannesburg on Sunday night. Three assailants fled from the scene with a cellphone.

Following the fatal shooting, police launched a manhunt for the 27-year-old's killers. They appealed to the public for information and offered a reward of 250,000 rand (18,000 euro; $23,000) for any tips leading to an arrest.

In a police statement issued after Mbatha's detention on Friday, investigators said while they were pleased with the "progress we are making and the overwhelming support from members of the public, there is still a lot of work to be done."

They added the search for outstanding suspects was ongoing and urged the public to continue providing information that could help with the case.

High crime rate

Meyiwa's death has highlighted the problem of gun violence in South Africa, which has one of the world's highest crime rates. More than 17,000 people were murdered there in 2013 - seven times the murder rate in the United States.

On Friday, scores of people lined the streets in Meyiwa's home city Durban as his body arrived for a memorial service. One day earlier, thousands of mourners had packed into a stadium in Johannesburg for a joint ceremony to celebrate the footballer and two other South African sports stars who lost their lives over the past week - silver medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, who died in a car crash, and boxer Phindile Mwelase, who died after being in a coma.

At the service, South African officials called for a strict new gun law to honor Meyiwa's memory.

All three sporting figures will be buried in their home towns over the weekend.

nm/kms (Reuters, dpa, AP)