The Death of Senzo Meyiwa

The Death of Senzo Meyiwa referrers to the shooting that resulted in the death of the goalkeeper and captain of the South African Senior Men’s National Team (Bafana Bafana) and Orlando Pirates, a South African football club with a legendary status in the country and the continent.

Senzo Meyiwa Bafana Bafana
Date of Death
October 26, 2014
Place of Death
South Africa
Time of Death
Approx. 8pm (20:00)
Cause of Death Gunshot Wound
Aged 27 years old
Memorial Service October 30, 2014 (JHB)
October 31, 2014 (DBN)
Funeral November 1, 2014
Moses Mabhida Stadium
Durban, KZN
South Africa
Resting Place Heroes Acre
Durban, KZN
South Africa

On Sunday night of October at approximately 9pm (21:00) or 10pm (22:00) South African time brief reports deprived of details began to surface on the internet saying that Senzo Meyiwa has died.

Those reports clarified that the details of his death remained unknown expect that he was shot.

South African Police Service (SAPS) took to their official twitter account “We have to break normal protocol. We can confirm that Bucs keeper Senzo Meyiwa has been shot and sadly declared dead on arrival at hospital”.

The SAPS later tweeted “The incident happened at around 20h00, Zamo Section in Vosloorus. Reward of up to R150 000 is on offer 4 any info that can lead to arrest”.

South Africans took to social networks in search of the details which led to Senzo Meyiwa becoming the most discussed subject that evening.

Shortly after midnight in the early hours of October 27, 2014 Senzo Meyiwa’s life long football club, Orlando Pirates, took to twitter to confirm the news – the tweet read: “MEYIWA STATEMENT: The @Orlando_Pirates family has learned with sadness of the untimely death of our number 1 keeper & captain Senzo Meyiwa”.

A string of tweets followed; “MEYIWA STATEMENT: This is a sad loss to Senzo’s family especially his children, to Orlando Pirates & the nation, said Chairman Dr Khoza”.

“MEYIWA STATEMENT: This statement is being issued whilst Club officials are up & about dealing with matters arising from the unsettling news”.

“MEYIWA STATEMENT: The Club will be holding a press conference on Monday morning”.

The news sent shock waves across South Africa and created media frenzy only surppased by the news of the death of Nelson Mandela.

South Africans all over the world paid tributes to the fallen stars from the point news of his death became official up to the day he was buried in the days that followed after the funeral.

The News of Senzo Meyiwa’s death were reported across the world, especially in the football crazed nations. Fifa president Sepp Blatter also took to twitter to pay tribute to the fallen Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper and captain.


Shooting and Death

On Sunday night October 26, 2014 at approximately 8pm (20:00) goalkeeper and captain of Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana Senzo Meyiwa was shot in Zamo Section in Vosloorus township in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa. Senzo Meyiwa was declared dead on arrival at Botshelong Empilweni Private Hospital.

Among the earliest known reports of Senzo Meyiwa’s death was the South African Police Service (SAPS) tweets “We have to break normal protocol. We can confirm that Bucs keeper Senzo Meyiwa has been shot and sadly declared dead on arrival at hospital”.

“We must emphasize break of protocol…We know there are upset & hurt people at the house where the incident occurred and at hospital. Calm please.

“No one present in the house was hurt… We can assure all South Africans that we will do all we can to bring Meyiwa’s killers to book…

“Info at this stage is that 7 men entered the house. There was an altercation. #SenzoMeyiwa was shot. Suspects fled on foot.

“The incident happened at around 20h00, Zamo Section in Vosloorus. Reward of up to R150 000 is on offer 4 any info that can lead to arrest.

“Update: there were 7 people inside the house. Two suspects went into the house, one remained outside. The 3 fled on foot after the shooting”.

After remaining mum for nearly four hours, Orlando Pirates took to twitter to break their silence:

Orlando Pirates official twitter paid tribute to slain goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa“MEYIWA STATEMENT: The @Orlando_Pirates family has learned with sadness of the untimely death of our number 1 keeper & captain Senzo Meyiwa”.

A string of tweets followed; “MEYIWA STATEMENT: This is a sad loss to Senzo’s family especially his children, to Orlando Pirates & the nation, said Chairman Dr Khoza”.

“MEYIWA STATEMENT: This statement is being issued whilst Club officials are up & about dealing with matters arising from the unsettling news”.

“MEYIWA STATEMENT: The Club will be holding a press conference on Monday morning”.


Versions of the Shooting Incident

The circumstances under which Senzo Meyiwa was shot remain a subject deprived of a succinct and consistent narrative. Since the night of Sunday October 26, 2014 multiple versions of the incident have emerged, with one common thread – two men entered the house with an intent to rob.

  • Ensuing Altercation

The SAPS tweet on Sunday night October 26, 2014 read: “Info at this stage is that 7 men entered the house. There was an altercation. #SenzoMeyiwa was shot. Suspects fled on foot”. The part about 7 men was later corrected “Update: there were 7 people inside the house. Two suspects went into the house, one remained outside. The 3 fled on foot after the shooting”.

  • Botched Robbery

It was initially understood that Senzo Meyiwa was shot during a botched robbery at Kelly Khumalo’s house. This version of events was supported by the understanding, based on various media reports, he was shot once and – out of seven people inside the targeted house – he was the only one was injured and subsequently died from that injury (Gunshot Wound).

  • Protecting Kelly Khumalo

On Monday October 27, 2014 the media was awash with claims that Senzo Meyiwa died protecting Kelly Khumalo; provincial community safety official Sizakele Nkosi-Malubane was quoted by various publications saying “Two guys entered the house and demanded mobile phones, money and other valuables. Senzo tried to protect Kelly because one of the men had a gun pointed towards her”.

  • Sign of Aggression

During the week of Senzo Meyiwa’s death there were reports coming out of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal based publications claiming that when the alleged robbers entered the house he (Senzo Meyiwa) was sitting down and he stood up and this move was viewed by them (the alleged robbers) as a sign of aggression at which point they shot at him.

It is worth noting that Sizakele Nkosi-Malubane reportedly told the media that “the bullet went through Meyiwa’s back, exiting through his chest” as reported by The Times – this put doubt to the “sign of aggression” version of the incident as Senzo Meyiwa would have had to be facing the shooter in order to appear aggressive.

  • On the Way Out

This version of the incident supports that of the “ensuing altercation”, it has been reported that Senzo Meyiwa and his friends were on their way out – leaving Kelly Khumalo’s house – when the intruders arrived.

At which point on of Senzo Meyiwa’s friend, who was ahead and at that point at the door, bumped into one of the intruders and the scuffle ensued and result in a gunshot being fired – hitting Senzo Meyiwa in the back exiting through his chest.

  • Kelly Khumalo, Zandi Khumalo and Longwe Twala’s version of the incident

On Sunday November 2, 2014 – a day after Senzo Meyiwa was buried – Kelly Khumalo, Zandi Khumalo and Longwe Twala gave an exclusive interview to the Sunday Times. In that interview they gave the details of the entire incident as it unfolded up to the point where Senzo Meyiwa was shot.

Kelly Khumalo was Senzo Meyiwa’s girlfriend at the time of his death; Zandi Khumalo is the sister of Kelly Khumalo with whom they (Kelly and Zandi) assaulted Mandisa Meyiwa (Senzo Meyiwa’s wife); and Longwe Twala is reportedly the boyfriend of Zandi Khumalo.

The Sunday Times reported ‘two gun-toting assailants stormed into the house at about 8pm last Sunday shouting in Zulu: “Give us your phones and money!”‘ -it was not specified which one of the trio said so. One man was wearing a black hoodie and the other, who sported dreadlocks, had on a cheap leather jacket – as reported by the Sunday Times.

Kelly Khumalo ran to her mother’s bedroom, chased by the assailant in the hoodie. A struggle ensued, with Khumalo trying to keep the door closed on him.

Not realising the man was armed, Twala (presumably, Longwe Twala) charged at the second assailant, who fired a shot at the ground. Longwe Twala fled outside, followed by another friend of Meyiwa’s, Mtho-kozisi [Mthokozisi] Twala.

Zandi Khumalo hid in the other bedroom, leaving Senzo Meyiwa, his friend Tumelo Madlala, Khumalo’s four-year-old son Christian and her mother in the living room.

Then the dread-locked attacker went to help his accomplice trying to enter the bedroom where Khumalo was hiding. Meyiwa and Madlala leapt up to stop him.

Kelly Khumalo carefully opened the door. “I realised that there were scuffles and fights all over the house,” she said. Together with her mother, she tried to push the attacker in the hoodie out of the house.

She [Kelly Khumalo] heard two gunshots. A third shot, which she didn’t hear, hit Meyiwa in the back. “Senzo ran to me, and I thought he was trying to save me because the killer was still in the house. Then he fell on top of me,” a distraught Khumalo said.

“When I turned him over that’s when I saw the blood, because he was wearing a white T-shirt.”

Khumalo, Zandi, Tumelo and Mthokozisi raced a bleeding Meyiwa to hospital, where he died 10 minutes after being admitted.


Gunshot Wound

Provincial community safety official Sizakele Nkosi-Malubane briefing the media on Monday morning of October 27, 2014 said that Senzo Meyiwa was shot in the back and the bullet exited through his chest.


The reported Seven (7) People who were in the house during the Incident

It is understood that among those in the house were: Senzo Meyiwa (the deceased), Kelly Khumalo (Senzo Meyiwa’s girlfriend), Zandi Khumalo (Kelly Khumalo’s sister), Kelly Khumalo’s mother, Longwe Twala (Zandi Khumalo’s boyfriend), Mthokozisi Twala (friend of Senzo Meyiwa) and Tumelo Madlala (also friend of Senzo Meyiwa) with Kelly Khumalo’s children Christian Maarohanye (son of Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye) and Thingo Aphelele Meyiwa (daughter of Senzo Meyiwa).



The Investigation into the Death of Senzo Meyiwa

The SAPS initially offered a reward of R150 000 to the person(s) with information that could lead to the arrest of those involved in the shooting that resulted in the death of Senzo Meyiwa. The reward was later raised to R250 000.

Suspect in the shooting of Senzo MeyiwaAs reported on numerous occasions; there were witnesses to the shooting. Those witnesses helped the police compose identikits of suspects. It is understood that Kelly and Zandi Khumalo were among those who helped the police compose sketches of suspects. Those sketches were later release to the public through the media.

Shortly after the release of those sketches; multiple haphazard media reports began emerging claiming that at one point or another, a suspect o two have been brought in for questioning. The police consistently denied having detained or brought anyone in for questioning.

On Friday October 31, 2014 – in a surprise turn of events – it was conclusively claimed that the police do in fact have a suspect in custody. Furthermore; it was reported that the suspect named Zanokuhle Mbatha (sometimes the first name misspelled as Zamokuhle – understandably so, Zamokuhle is a far more popular name than Zanokuhle in South Africa) had briefly appeared at Boksburg Magistrate’s Court.

Suspects in the shooting of Senzo MeyiwaZanokuhle Mbatha’s court appearance was later confirmed by the National Prosecuting Authority as well as the police.

It was further reported that he was due to return to Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on November 11, 2014.

In the Sunday Times report – in which Kelly Khumalo, Zandi Khumalo and Longwe Twala discussed the shooting incident – it was reported that Zanokuhle Mbatha was arrested in a raid carried out by the police on Thursday October 30, 2014 just three streets from the scene of the crime.

There were also unclear reports of two people being arrested a the at Beit Bridge South Africa-Zimbabwe border; the eventuality of these reports was further drowned by the court appearance of Zanokuhle Mbatha. According to The Times, these arrests were denied by the police.

While Zanokuhle Mbatha was being held awaiting his court appearance, the police claimed that they were positive that he was involved in the murder of Senzo Meyiwa.

On November 11, 2014 Zanokuhle Mbatha appeared in court returned to Boksburg Magistrate’s Court where Magistrate Daniel Thulare concluded that the charges against him be withdrawn and he be released from custody. Magistrate Daniel Thulare was quoted saying “from the submissions made by prosecutor Getrude Market the court has accepted that as of now there is not sufficient evidence to put Mr Mbatha to trial”.

“I note the withdrawal of charges by the State against Mbatha and consequently the court orders the release of Mr Mbatha today”.


Controversy in the wake Zanokuhle Mbatha’s Arrest

The arrest and court appearance of Zanokuhle Mbatha caught many South Africans by surprise and sparked excitement across social networks as many believed that it marked the beginning of the end in the hunt for the killers of Senzo Meyiwa.

However, this was not the case with the friends and relatives of Zanokuhle Mbatha who dismissed claims that he was involved in the shooting of Senzo Meyiwa.

One of his friends was quoted saying “What proof do the police have to say it is him? We are shocked that they [the police] were quick to even say it was him to the media”?

Zanokuhle Mbatha’s cousin was quoted saying “Why was an identikit done if they knew him? Why couldn’t Kelly or her mom tell the police it was him”?

“I don’t think this makes sense. My cousin used to wash both Senzo’s and Kelly’s cars … If you know a person it is easy to point him or her out”.

“What we want is for the Khumalo family to tell the truth. They must say who did this horrible thing. I am also hurt by the death of Senzo. I am a Pirates fan”.

“He doesn’t have a gold tooth, and the hat on that picture… Police even gave out wrong information about him. He is 27 and not 25”

“The police said they were taking him for questioning. But were we shocked when we saw on TV that he was arrested and taken to court. This whole issue makes our family look bad to people, as if we have raised a thug”.


Manqoba Fat-Free Oliphant facebook post, an alleged hoax

Manqoba Fat-Free Oliphant facebook postA Facebook post sent through an account held under the name of “Manqoba Fat-Free Oliphant” claimed that Senzo Meyiwa was shot when he intervened during an altercation between Zaza (reportedly Zandi Khumalo, sister of Kelly Khumalo) and her boyfriend (fiancé) – reportedly Longwe Twala.

In the post in question, Manqoba Fat-Free Oliphant apparently stated that Senzo Meyiwa had attended fellow Orlando Pirates player, Rooi Mahumutsa’s birthday party when he left for Kelly Khumalo’s Vosloorus home.

Manqoba Fat-Free Oliphant used the same account to counter and claim that his Facebook account was hacked and he had no knowledge of the events articulated in the post.



In the morning of Monday October 27, 2014 Orlando Pirates football club set up at their training ground, the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg, getting ready to welcome the media, South African football administrators and other guests.

In attendance at that press conference were Orlando Pirates players, fans, management, technical staff, journalists and South African football administrators among others – some of the most notable names in attendance were; Dr. Irvin Khoza – chairman of Orlando Pirates and the PSL, Kaizer Motaung – chairman and founder of Kaizer Chiefs and vice-chairman of the PSL, Brand de Villiers – CEO of the PSL, Dennis Mumble – CEO of the South African Football Association (SAFA) and Shakes Mashaba – head coach of the South African Men’s Senior National Team (Bafana Bafana).

Shakes Mashaba at the Orlando Pirates Conference called in the wake of the death of Senzo MeyiwaShakes Mashaba could not hold back the tears as he broke down and cried during his speech.

Dr. Irvin Khoza had told the media that he spoke to Kaizer Motaung about the letter he intended to send to the PSL about the postponement of the Soweto Derby which scheduled for Saturday November 1, 2014 at 15:30 at FNB stadium at Nasrec in Johannesburg.

During his address, Brand de Villiers said that the 154th Soweto Derby match will be postponed until further notice, this as a respect to the slain goalkeeper.

Senzo Meyiwa’s father, Samuel “Sam” Meyiwa, – speaking to the media from his home in the K-Section of Umlazi township, south of the city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal – told the journalists that the bullet that killed his son also killed a part of him and pleaded with the police to arrest the perpetrators.

Sam Meyiwa was quoted saying “They [the police] must make sure they get these people who killed my son. I want them in jail. I want them in custody. I want to talk to them and ask them why they killed my son. It’s like they killed myself.”

“I don’t know if I’m coming or going. My heart is broken. I’m just finished” Sam Meyiwa was quoted saying.

SABC 1’s Soccerzone dedicated it’s hour long episode to Senzo Meyiwa with Augusto Palacios as a notable guest who is said to have spent the longest time with Senzo Meyiwa on the football field.

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Teboho Moloi was on SuperSport’s PSL Extra Time, also talking about the tragic death of Senzo Meyiwa.

Senzo Meyiwa’s death also drew reactions from former South African international Steven Pienaar, Fifa president Sepp Blatter, South African rugby player Bryan Habana, South African rapper AKA and South African music maestro Zakes Bantwini among many other notable figures.

  • Kelly Khumalo’s House

Around the same time as the press conference: In Vosloorus in the East Rand, Ekurhuleni the police and the media descended on the scene of the crime.

At that point it had become public knowledge that Senzo Meyiwa was shot at his girlfriend’s (Kelly Khumalo) house.


  • October 31 to November 2, 2014 PSL Fixtures

Originally the Premier Soccer League of South Africa only announced on Monday October 27, 2014 the cancellation and reschedule of the Soweto Derby, a match between Orlando Pirate (the club Senzo Meyiwa played for) and Kaizer Chiefs.

In the days that followed the other clubs also sought to have their fixtures rescheduled, a request that was granted by the Premier Soccer League.

All Absa Premiership and National First Division matches scheduled for the weekend of October 31 to November 2, 2014 were not played and were reschedule for later dates.


Memorial Service and Funeral

On Thursday October 30, 2014 Senzo Meyiwa was remembered along with two along fallen sports stars, runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and female Boxer Phindile Mwelase in a South African sports ministry organized memorial service held at Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg.

Another memorial service was held at community grounds at L-Section uMlazi, organized by his friends and former teammates from his London Cosmos days.

On Friday October 31, 2014 the KwaZulu-Natal government organized a memorial service of Meyiwa at Durban City Hall. On this day his body arrived in his home town of Durban.

President Jacob Zuma ordered that national flags be flown at half-mast in the KwaZulu-Natal province on November 1, 2014 (the day of the funeral) in honor Senzo Meyiwa.

On Saturday November 1, 2014 the funeral service of Senzo Meyiwa took place at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Senzo Meyiwa Funeral Moses Mabhida StadiumHe was given an official KwaZulu-Natal provincial funeral for his service to the South African football as declared by President Jacob Zuma on Thursday October 30, 2014.

Tens of thousands of people came to Moses Mabhida Stadium to bid farewell to the fallen star.

Many people there wore black and or/ red of Orlando Pirates – the club Senzo Meyiwa played for and later captained.

His funeral was also attended by; KwaZulu-Natal premier, Senzo Mchunu; Orlando Pirates and Premier Soccer League chairman, Dr. Irvin Khoza; Kaizer Chiefs founder and chairman, Kaizer Motaung; South Africa Football Association president Danny Jordaan; Sports and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula; Bafana Bafana coach, Shakes Mashaba and Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe.

He was laid to rest at Heroes Acre in Chesterville, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.