Johannesburg: South Africa’s soccer captain Senzo Meyiwa was shot dead by intruders in a township near Johannesburg on Sunday in what local media reported as a botched robbery.
The Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was shot after two men entered a house in Vosloorus where Meyiwa was visiting, at about 8 p.m. local time (1800 GMT), South Africa police said in a statement.
The intruders fled, along with a third man who had been waiting outside. Other people in the house were unharmed.
Local media said the intruders had demanded a mobile phone.
“We can confirm that Bucs (Pirates) keeper Senzo Meyiwa has been shot and sadly declared dead on arrival at hospital,” the South African Police Services said on its Twitter feed.
“We must emphasize break of protocol... We know there are upset and hurt pple (people) at the house where (the) incident occurred and at hospital. Calm please.
“We can assure all South Africans that we will do all we can to bring Meyiwa`s killers (to) book,” the police said in a further tweet, offering a reward of R150,000 ($13,700).
The 27-year-old captained South Africa in their last four matches in the African Nations Cup qualifiers without conceding a goal and played on Saturday when his club advanced to the semi-finals of the South African League Cup.
“This is a sad loss which ever way you look at it – to Senzo’s family, his extended family, Orlando Pirates and to the nation,” Pirates chairman Irvin Khoza said in a statement.
News of the shooting prompted widespread sympathy on social media and condemnation of South Africa’s rampant gun violence.
“How do you kill someone for a cellphone?” tweeted national team mate Tsepo Masilela.
Belgian-based goalkeeper Darren Keet, who had been Meyiwa’s understudy over the last four internationals, tweeted: “When does it STOP South Africa?”
Meyiwa’s death follows that of another prominent South African sportsman, former world 800 metres champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, killed in a car accident on Friday.
Violent gun crime in South Africa has been highlighted by the trial of Paralympic runner Oscar Pistorius, who was given a five-year jail sentence for culpable homicide after shooting dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
More than 17,000 people were murdered in South Africa between April 2013 and March 2014, an increase of about 800 over the previous year, according to police figures.