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Funeral held for slain South African footballer

November 1, 2014

Thousands of South Africans have attended the funeral of the slain captain of the country's football team. Senzo Meyiwa was gunned down in a robbery last weekend.

Senzo Meyiwa's coffin is carried
Image: Reuters/S. Sibeko

An estimated 20,000 - 30,000 people turned up to pay their last respects to former South African national team captain and first-choice goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa in Durban on Saturday.

Among those who attended the ceremony, held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, were leading politicians and sporting dignitaries, including the president of the South African Football Association, Danny Jordaan.

Jordaan described Meyiwa, who played with the Orlando Pirates, as having been "in tune with himself," saying his life had been taken in "the most cruel and violent way."

"Death is a thief that has stolen a bright shining light from the nation," Durban mayor James Nxumalo said.

"The entire nation is crying. We have all lost. Our condolences to Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana (as South Africa's national team is known by its fans). "Our hearts are bleeding," Nxumalo said.

Video footage of the funeral, which was broadcast live on South African television, showed some fans in tears as Meyiwa's coffin, draped in the country's flag, was carried through the stadium.

Meyiwa, 27, who grew up in Umlazhi, a township near Durban on the Indian Ocean coast, was to be laid to rest later in the day at the Heroes Acre at Chesterfield cemetery - an honor that is usually reserved for outstanding figures from the struggle against apartheid.

Meyiwa was shot dead by an intruder at his girlfriend's house near Johannesburg last Sunday night.

One suspect, a 25-year-old man, has been arrested connection with the incident. Police are continuing to search for other suspects.

"We've got every reason to be angry about Senzo," Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula said at Saturday's funeral service. "Justice is grinding and we will find them. We will never rest until we find all of them."

pfd/sb (AFP, Reuters, dpa)