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Former AmaZulu player’s family in agony after he disappears while on bogus trial in Georgia

Thulani Cele hasn’t been heard from since the 3rd of June. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Thulani Cele hasn’t been heard from since the 3rd of June. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Jun 21, 2022


Durban - The family of former AmaZulu and Nedbank Ke Yona Team player Thulani Cele are in great agony after his disappearance while on bogus trial in Georgia, Europe.

The 22-year-old winger last spoke to his family on the 3rd of June when he was preparing to return home after a harrowing time in the Southern European nation.

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Bongani Shongwe and Khanda Manqele, father and cousin to Thulani revealed on SAFM on Monday evening the shocking details of his son's trip to Gagra FC, including an apparent arrest.

"I last spoke to him on the 3rd of June, Thulani told me the whole trial was a scam because Gagra said they hadn't invited him and he had just finished packing so he could head to the airport and come home," Manqele said.

"On the very same day he was supposed to come home, someone called my mom (Thulani's grandmother) and told her that her son had been detained in Georgia and they dropped the phone and we haven't heard anything else," his father also explained.

An obviously distressed Shongwe also revealed discomforting claims about the player's living conditions while he was abroad. The former TS Sporting player was looking to take his exploits to Europe and enlisted the help of an agent he met while in the Nedbank Ke Yona squad.

"Thulani's trip to Georgia was organised by a man named Baggio that we met through the Nedbank Ke Yona initiative. We then paid for Thulani's travelling costs and Baggio was supposed to book for his accommodation and Thulani gave Baggio's connection that side money for his accommodation when he got there . "

"A week into his stay there, he was told by the manager of the hotel that he hadn't paid for his stay and should settle the bill, which came as a surprise because he had given that guy money for accommodation.

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"After consulting with Baggio about his situation and the fact he had been reduced to one meal a day because of his debt, Baggio assured him he would pay the hotel but we can hardly reach him and if we're lucky and he picks up he would tell us he's still making loans and trying to sort out the situation."

Shongwe appealed to anyone at national level with the capacity to aid his son's safe return to lend a hand as his attempts at International Affairs appear to be dragging on.

"We've tried it to get a hold of someone from International Affairs named Mr Brown and he asked us to send his details but also told us it would be difficult because there isn't a South African embassy in Georgia. We are just begging the government to use any resource he has at his disposal to find my son," he expressed.

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