It’s been six years since the passing of former Orlando Pirates legend and Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa and while the focus remains on justice, we often forget the legacy ‘Ndzori’ left behind.
Senzo Meyiwa was murdered by unknown gunmen in October 2014 whilst visiting his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo in Vosloorus and after six long years, some progress is being made with regards to solving the case.
Born Senzo Robert Meyiwa in the township of Umlazi, south west of Durban in KwaZulu Natal. Ndzori made his first breakthrough in 2000 when he made he mark at the Coca-Cola under U17 provincial tournament as a 13-year-old. Meyiwa was then scouted by Orlando Pirates after representing KwaZulu-Natal and joined their academy shortly thereafter.
In 2006, Senzo Meyiwa was rewarded for his hard work at academy level and made his PSL debut in a 2-1 victory over AmaZulu. Ndzori became the Orlando Pirates number one during the 2007/08 season however the arrival of Moeneeb Joseph meant that he’d have to play second fiddle for the next four years.
It was in 2012 when Senzo Meyiwa’s patience paid off after wholeheartedly grabbing the number one position at Orlando Pirates following an injury to Josephs.
Meyiwa made a total of six appearances for Bafana Bafana in which he kept five cleansheets while conceding just one goal. He was pivotal in South Africa qualifying for the 2015 AFCON however he was unfortunately gunned down before the tournament.
Senzo Meyiwa would go on to represent everything good about South Africa during his playing career. Every football fan will tie ‘patience’ with Ndzori while most teammates of the deceased marveled at his ability to forgive, his ability to make those around him smile and most of all his courage.
In a society ridden with challenges, from the lowest class of society not knowing where their next meal is coming from due to the disturbing levels of poverty to the highest class of society not being able to enjoy any of their good fortune due to the disastrous levels of crime and everything else in between, leaving any form of a positive legacy is a tough ask.
The Senzo Meyiwa legacy that should never be forgotten
Amidst the chaos surrounding the Senzo Meyiwa case and the desperate yearning for justice, many have forgotten about the rich legacy the goalkeeper left behind. We take a look at what some of his former teammates and opponents had to say about the unique qualities he developed with the hope of inspiring a nation desperate for inspiration.
“He had a great future ahead of him. He had an amazing sense of humour. There was never a dull moment when he was around. This was how we were every weekend, cracking jokes.” – Siyabonga Nomvethe.
“Senzo Meyiwa was patient for nine years. He played second fiddle to Josephs, but he never sulked and he was consistent in his mannerism. He taught me what patience is.” – Dr. Irvin Khoza.
“Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same again. We have lost a fellow soldier and a friend in the world that we live.” – Teko Modise.
“I remember the technical team needing to pick a keeper at Under-23 and they suggested cutting us in half so we both could play, but Senzo Meyiwa didn’t give up even when I was number one for Bafana, he kept fighting, and it was his hard work that earned him that jersey when I got injured. As youngsters we both dreamt of being number one for the country.” – Itumeleng Khune.
“Senzo Meyiwa was a great. He enjoyed cracking jokes and there was always laughter whenever he was around. You would hardly find him angry and even if something had happened to him, he would get over it quickly.” – Siyabonga Sangweni told Kick-Off.
The King of Lubumbashi
It was on a tense afternoon in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Senzo Meyiwa’s courage and bravery gripped the entire footballing world. Orlando Pirates faced the formidable task of beating African giants TP Mazembe away from home to progress in the CAF Champions League.
One of the most intimidating crowds in the world along with some questionable refereeing decisions meant the Buccaneers were up against 13 men on the day. Orlando Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwati was sent off himself however up stepped Senzo Meyiwa with a performance that no onlooker would ever forget.
Senzo Meyiwa made a number of brilliant saves which included two penalties on the day to seal a 0-1 victory in the notorious city of Lubumbashi to send Orlando Pirates through to the 2013 CAF Champions League quarterfinals.
So while we continue to seek for the justice that Senzo Meyiwa deserved, let’s continue to remember the legacy of the legendary goalkeeper. The undeniable silver lining was that Ndzori wasn’t one of those who the money or the fame got to, he represented Orlando Pirates and South Africa in a truly remarkable manner making himself a true role model for every South African.