“It’s quite disappointing and painful that Senzo’s case hasn’t been resolved after all these years,” says Sifiso Meyiwa, the older brother of slain former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates’ captain Senzo Meyiwa.
It’s been nearly eight years since Senzo was killed while visiting his girlfriend and the mother of his child, singer Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus, Gauteng. The state alleges it was a botched robbery. There were seven people in the house, yet the killer is yet to be identified. Claims have been made in several court cases about who the shooter is and what transpired on 26 October 2014, but state bungling and mudslinging among the teams investigating the murder have hampered progress.
“It’s painful to even express how I feel whenever I hear that this case is going to court again. Sometimes I think deep why this is happening to my brother,” said Sifiso. Five men are being tried in Pretoria for his murder, although Sifiso doesn’t believe they’re the killers.
“He was robbed of a life when he was at the peak of his career. Not a single person deserves to die that way. I’m not broken though because I’m a strong person. I do face this situation calmly, even if it is difficult to handle. I must remain strong so I can focus on life. I do miss my brother, and once I hear that this case is going to court, the pain comes back. The way he was killed is brutal. At the same time, it is hard to understand why all the people present at the house at that time failed to identify the killer. These are questions that leave us as a family frustrated.”
In 2017, when Fikile Mbalula was appointed as the minister of police, he promised to prioritise Meyiwa’s case. But the family still awaits justice. Minister of Police Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said to ask the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) or South African Police Service (SAPS) investigators why the case has dragged on so long. But neither of those organisations want to comment, with the NPA directing questions back to the minister of police.
According to Sifiso, who is the police clerk at the Isipingo police station, his brother’s death has affected his family severely. He says Senzo’s murder and the authorities’ failure to bring the family justice caused his father Samuel Meyiwa’s death in 2019, when he had a stroke caused by stress.
“As a family, we never underwent therapy after Senzo’s death and that has affected some of us. On my side, I don’t think I need it,” said the 40-year-old from Umlazi’s J section in Durban.
“If you look at the way my father died, then you will realise that he died as a broken person. He used to sit alone in the bedroom for hours trying to find inner peace. He was not doing well emotionally and you could understand if this is difficult for me, then imagine how it was for him. He had this notebook where he was writing some stuff in it. He used to follow some cases and even ask why this case has been solved quickly while Senzo’s is still not resolved?
“The death of Senzo played a huge role in my father’s death. He wasn’t doing well. I think my mother is someone who needs emotional support at the moment and therapy might be a good suggestion. She has been going through a lot, losing two people she loved is taking a toll on her. That is why she sometimes doesn’t even want to speak to the media. She is so tired and I can relate.”
Chairperson of both the Premier Soccer League (PSL) and Pirates, Irvin Khoza, announced in 2016 the payment of a R4 million life policy for Senzo. Half would be paid to the club, which took out the cover, and the other half would go to the Meyiwa family. Senzo’s father and his wife Mandisa were at that press conference.
“The situation has never been the same since his death. He was a breadwinner, so you can imagine the gap he left. The insurance money the PSL promised us, we are yet to receive it,” said Sifiso.
“I communicated with Irvin Khoza asking him about the process and he told me that they have put the money into a government guardian fund. When I went to the offices to follow up, they told me there was no money. Then I called Irvin and he said I must go to the head office in Pretoria. I instructed Mandisa to go to Pretoria since she lives closer to the place, but she was told there is no money. Then I went back to Irvin, and then he referred me to speak to the lawyer [Raymond Hack] who was the administrator of the policy. I communicated with the lawyer on many occasions but there was no progress. Then I ended up giving up on the issue.”
Hack denied these allegations, saying the money is there for Senzo’s children. “It’s not the first time someone from the media has contacted me regarding this case. I was the one who drew up all the paperwork and that happened a long time ago,” said the former South African Football Association chief executive.
“The money is allocated for all of Senzo’s dependents. But to access it you must submit proof from an appointed guardian who happens to have a guardian fund certificate. Then, once they reach the age of 18, they will be able to have full control of their money. At one stage, Senzo’s father said he needed money because he was struggling to make ends meet. But we explained to him that he can’t get the money because it is not for him but for Senzo’s kids. I can’t reveal who has the fund certificate because it is private and confidential, but I can assure you that the money is there.”
The truth will come out
Sifiso was unaware of the requirements to access the money. “This is new to me, that someone is holding a certificate to access the money. Even Mandisa doesn’t have that kind of information since she tried on numerous occasions to follow this case.
“I think as a family we must hold a meeting to decide the way forward for Senzo’s kids to get a proper life. I’m sure this is something he had wished for. Hack is the person we shall contact first to get to the bottom of the truth now. All these years we thought there was no money. I’ll also give the family an update on the matter because they don’t know about this. This is a huge breakthrough for us.”
The reopening of the case has once again thrown up controversies, from the dramatic arrest of advocate Malesela Teffo, who is representing four of the five men accused of murdering Senzo, to the death of Brigadier Philani Ndlovu, a key state witness. Many are doubtful this trial will shed light on the truth, or reveal the identity of the killer and find justice for his family.
“I’m positive that we are close to finding Senzo’s killers. The team handling the case at the moment, I have full trust in them,” said Sifiso.
“As a person who believes in God, goes to church and prays every day, I must not lose hope. There is new evidence that has been collected that is yet presented to the court. Plus, some of the people who are living close to that house know the truth and are willing to assist us. Certain people are trying to block the truth from coming out to the public, but they won’t succeed this time. I still believe the truth will prevail, no matter how.”