For five years Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa’s dad Sam poured his heartache, anger and frustration into a journal. He painstakingly wrote down the repeated false promises made to him about how his son’s killer would be caught.
It was a way to help him express his grief, his sister-in-law Thandi Miya said as she paid tribute to him at his funeral yesterday. Sam, 66, died on Monday after a stroke at his Umlazi home — almost a year after suffering his first stroke, which left him wheelchair-bound.
“Sam would take notes on all that was reported in the media about Senzo’s case. Many thought he was crazy or after money but all he wanted was justice for his son,” Miya told mourners, including police minister Bheki Cele, at the Umlazi community hall, south of Durban.
“He always used to say what hurt the most was that the house was full of people [when Senzo died] and it would have been better if Senzo had been run over by a car.”
Miya said Sam had been left distraught after a litany of broken promises about finding the killer from politicians and police chiefs over the years. The case has been mired in controversy since Senzo’s murder on October 2 2014, at the Vosloorus family home of his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo.
Police called it a botched robbery, after witnesses claimed men stormed the home while they were having dinner, demanding cellphones and money. In the house with Senzo the night he died were Khumalo’s mother Ntombi, her sister Zandi Khumalo and her boyfriend Longwe Twala, friends Mthokozisi Twala and Tumelo Madlala and their four-year-old son Christian. Longwe is the son of muso Chicco Twala.
A few days after the killing, Vosloorus resident Zamokuhle Mbatha was arrested but charges were dropped a month later for insufficient evidence. At the funeral, Cele admitted that he knew that Sam would not “rest in peace” because his campaign for justice for Senzo had come to naught. He said nothing would give him greater satisfaction than to catch Senzo’s killers and promised that the day “Bra Sam” would be able to rest in peace was coming soon.
Sam’s youngest daughter, Nhlanhla, told mourners that it seemed her father had sensed his health was deteriorating. Three days before his death, she found a note he had written to his children.
“It read: ‘My children do not forget all the work I have done when I die’,” she said.
Nhlanhla said this could have been a reference to his determination to seek justice for her brother. She said the siblings promised to treat their mother, Ntombifuthi — who remained composed under her black veil throughout the funeral — with the same love and respect as their father had. During her tribute Nhlanhla was surrounded by Sam’s grandchildren, including Senzo’s child Nana, whose mother Mandisa was also in attendance.
Meanwhile, former national detective services divisional commissioner Vinesh Moonoo told the Sunday Times that little to no progress has been made on the case because “witnesses to the crime are covering up for someone”.
He claimed his office wanted to oversee the investigation, but the docket, which was investigated by the Gauteng provincial detective office at the time, “was not forthcoming”.
Senzo’s uncle, Siyabonga Meyiwa, said given what Cele told the family on Tuesday, when he paid his respects after Sam’s death, “the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing”.
“He told us he reorganised the original investigation team, which had too many people. The team is now four people.”
Siyabonga said Cele had told them investigators recently obtained “prosecutable information”.
“From what we took away from the meeting, things may happen soon,” he said.
Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, however, maintained the case was not bungled.
“If there is to be a take-down it has to be done on good information. Arrests will be made but we cannot give time frames.”
She said Cele’s original Easter deadline, given in January, was missed because police had to verify new information.
Mbatha is suing the police for about R17m for wrongful arrest, his lawyer, Mxolisi Ndwandwe, confirmed to the Sunday Times this week.
“The matter was in court on 19 May. The police told us there were others who were involved in the matter who wanted to bring a civil action against them and wanted to consolidate the case. That was two months ago and we have heard nothing since then about this consolidation application of the police’s. We are now applying for a new court date.”
– Sunday Times