In this file photo Bheka Phakathi was assistant coach of Royal Eagles. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG  – The South African Football Association (Safa) has joined thousands of football fans that are in mourning, following the sudden death of former Orlando Pirates midfielder Bheka Phakathi at the age of 43.

He lost his life last Sunday in a car accident while he was on his way to training at ABC Motsepe League club Umvoti FC.

Phakathi rose to prominence while at Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban before making the trek to Johannesburg to play for Pirates between 2002 and 2005.

After his stint with the Buccaneers, he returned to Arrows. He also turned out for Maritzburg United, before hanging up his boots in December 2010.

At the time of his passing on, Phakathi was the head coach Umvoti FC in KZN, whom he led to the league title, and was busy with preparations for the upcoming National First Division (NFD) play-offs.

He made only one appearance for Bafana Bafana, featuring in the 1-0 loss to Zimbabwe in the quarterfinal of the Cosafa Castle Cup on July 19, 2003.

“The South African Football Association (Safa) is in mourning for the sudden and tragic loss of the life of Bheka Phakathi. We join millions of fans in the football family as we convey our deepest condolences to his family, relatives, friends and fans around the country. 

"At this stage, our thoughts and prayers go to everyone who knew him. May his soul rest in peace,” said Safa CEO Dennis Mumble.

In recent times, several footballers lost their lives in car accidents – Cecil Lolo (Ajax Cape Town – 2015); Mondli Cele (Maritzburg United – 2016); Mondli Dlamini (Maritzburg United – 2017) and not so long ago, Mogau Tshehla (Polokwane City – 2018).

“This is heartbreaking to hear of another footballer/coach that has lost his life in a car accident, and again brings to the fore the debate of safety on our roads. 

"This means we have to do more on this matter to ensure that our footballers are safer on the roads, as their passing on robs the country of the immense talent they have.”

Phakathi also coached NFD side Royal Eagles on an interim basis and was the assistant to Shaun Bartlett when Golden Arrows won the National First Division title in 2015/16 season.

Bheka Phakathi fact file:

Born on May 7, 1974, in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
Came to prominence while playing for Arrows before attracting the attention of Pirates
Played for the Buccaneers between 2002 and 2005.
Later returned to the KZN side and also played for Maritzburg United
Hung up his boots in 2010
Was an assistant coach to Shaun Bartlett when Arrows won promotion back to the Premiership during the 2014/15 season
He was coaching ABC Motsepe club Umvoti FC at the time of his passing – a team he had led to the NFD playoffs
He also worked at UKhozi FM as a football analyst
After retiring from football Phakathi had the stint at Arrows and Royal Eagles where he served as an assistant coach. - 

African News Agency (ANA)

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