PHIL MASINGA reacts after scoring his celebrated goal for Bafana Bafana in a 1997 World Cup qualifier against Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo). TOUCHLINE PHOTO
The family of the late Philemon “Chippa” Masinga seems to think it’s okay to simply refuse to field questions regarding his demise.

“I am not going to say anything,” says Meshack Masinga, one of Chippa’s brothers. The other brother is Ernest.

A young woman who introduced herself as Lerato and said “I’m “Ntombi’s sister”, offers to pass our contact details to the family spokesperson, who, predictably, fails to get in touch with us.

Ntombi Nombewu is Masinga’s widow and was his second wife.

The men seated under the tree outside the family home in Khuma township are also reluctant to talk about their peer: “Not until we have permission to speak to the media.”

Through the veil of secrecy, one gathers that the house, which Masinga later returned to, is the family home he bought for his parents, who had lived in a mine compound. 

It is a vast property with ample space for garaging. There’s not a single car. “Chippa had cars,” a neighbour offers.

Masinga owned the Engen garage strategically located on the busy main road, now named Tsotetsi Seakhoa Road after a victim of police shootings.

“He sold it a long time ago,” says another local.

Anybody with a passing interest in the life of the fallen hero also knows he owned a nightclub in Klerksdorp, 10km from Stilfontein, his home town.

It was in Klerksdorp that Masinga bought a house in the upmarket La Hoff/Wilkoppies area, where property prices are in the millions of rand.

“I used to wash his takkies and do gardening for him,” says a streetwise fella who goes by the name Bra Stopper. He enthuses about his hero and his material wealth.

A woman who saw Masinga a few weeks before he was admitted to Tshepong Hospital in Jouberton, Klerksdorp, says he was very frail.

News is that 49-year-old Masinga died of gastric cancer.

Word on the street is that Masinga died penniless because “divorce crippled him”.

His first wife was Carol Puleng.

Masinga joins a long list of soccer players who died with a negative bank balance, among them Thabang Lebese, who played for Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.

Sunday Independent