The captain of South Africa’s national football team was fatally shot when armed men broke into the house where he was staying, police said.
Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was killed around 8pm Sunday after two gunmen entered a house in Vosloorus township, near Johannesburg, while an accomplice waited outside, the national police force said on its Twitter account.
The three assailants then fled on foot, according to the police service, which offered a reward of nearly 153,000 rands (£8,700) for information leading to arrests in the case. Police said there were seven people in the house during the attack, and that the shooting followed an altercation. Authorities said they would do everything possible to find the killers.
South Africa has a high rate of violent crime, but it was not immediately clear whether the house where Meyiwa was staying was targeted by thieves or gunmen with another motive. Solomon Makgale, a police spokesman, declined to comment, referring Associated Press to updates on the police Twitter account.
Meyiwa’s club, Orlando Pirates, said in a statement that it “has learned with sadness about the untimely death of our number one goalkeeper and current captain Senzo Meyiwa”.
“This is a sad loss whichever way you look at it to Senzo’s family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation,” the chairman, Irvin Khoza, said.
Meyiwa, 27, was South Africa’s captain in its four qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations this year, including its last game, a 0-0 draw with Democratic Republic of Congo on 15 October. He played for the Pirates on Saturday in a 4-1 win over Ajax Cape Town.
It was the second death to hit the nation’s sports world in three days, as former 800m world champion runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash on Friday. At the time, the president, Jacob Zuma, said “the nation has lost a true hero”.
Early on Monday local time, the youth league of South Africa’s ruling party sent condolences to the families of Meyiwa and Mulaudzi, saying “their premature passing is indeed a great loss to the country and sporting nation”.
Meyiwa’s international team-mate Dean Furman, who plays for Doncaster Rovers, tweeted: “Beyond devastated at the loss of our captain & friend Senzo Meyiwa. thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends at this terrible time.”
Darren Keet, a fellow goalkeeper who plays for Belgian club KV Kortrijk and the national side, offered his deepest condolences to Meyiwa’s family and friends. He wrote: “Deeply saddening to hear this news about our captain and friend”, adding that Meyiwa would be “missed, but never forgotten”. He said Meyiwa’s killing was sad for South Africa.