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Pretoria - Premier Soccer League chairman Irvin Khoza says it is time football used its influence in society to campaign for good driving.
He was speaking after a visit to the scene of an accident in Limpopo on Sunday in which four footballers were killed.
Khoza, Polokwane City FC management and SA Football Association and Premier Soccer League members visited the scene yesterday to pay tribute to the players.
They laid flowers underneath the street pole next to which the bus City players were travelling in collided with a bakkie before it overturned and landed on its side at aT-junction along the R71 road, east of Polokwane.
At the scene, blood stains and the wreckage of the vehicles could still be seen on the ground on both lanes.
Club chairman Jonny Mokgaladi told a media briefing that players and management were still struggling to accept the sudden departure of players. “It’s not easy to forget [what I saw at the scene],” said a devastated Mokgaladi.
He had been hoping that one day he would be there to inform the players about the latest development in the province regarding football, said Mokgaladi, who battled to contain his grief.
“Unfortunately, I am here today to discuss bad news [and, I feel like a failure] in a sense. I was supposed to look [out] for those boys, but I feel I didn’t do enough.”
Mourners expressed concern over the reckless manner in which motorists drove on the national roads, contributing to the high death rate.
Traffic authorities believe that the driver of the bakkie was at fault. They say that if he had stopped at the intersection, the accident would have been avoided.
The bakkie dragged the bus and pushed it to the opposite lane, facing oncoming traffic.
Twelve players were injured.
Khoza said he was in pain, but happy that the fallen stars had died in the course of their mission.
“More often than not, we scream because our youths have undertaken to be consumed by youth sub-cultures, but these young men had chosen the important path [football] in the country,” said Khoza.
“We [have been] robbed of talent the country needs.”
Safa president Kirsten Nematandani conveyed his condolences to the players’ families and friends.
He said life was too precious to be lost “just like that” and so soon after the death of Bafana Bafana assistant coach Thomas Madigage in another road accident barely a month ago.
“One life lost is devastating, and to lose four young lives is sad, painful and difficult for relatives, friends and the football fraternity.
“We need to be careful on the roads because precious lives are being lost needlessly,” he said.
Provincial Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba, who also visited the scene and the injured players in hospital, said the government would be organising counselling for affected players and their families.
Scores of people, mainly from the town of Nobody, gathered at the accident scene on Sunday night, trying to console the surviving players.
Khoza and other dignitaries, including, PSL member Leepile Taunyane and Polokwane mayor Freddy Greaver, visited injured City player Michael Mosima at Mankweng Hospital.
Another player, whose name had not been made public, is said to be in high care at the Medi-Clinic in Polokwane.
Khoza said National First Division weekend games would be suspended to allow for a period of mourning.