Henyekane’s aunt, Boitumelo Ganyaza, said the fact that the 31-year-old Free State Stars striker, who is affectionately known as the “Kimberley Express”, died just a few months after his brother, Joseph Henyekane, made it a bitter pill to swallow.
“This is an unexplainable feeling of pain. We haven’t healed yet from the death of Joseph and now that wound is ripped wide open again,” said Ganyaza.
According to reports, Henyekane and four others died after the vehicle they were travelling in collided with a truck in Bethlehem, Free State early yesterday morning.
Ganyaza said yesterday they were not sure of what really happened when Henyekane was killed.
“He was on his way from Bethlehem to QwaQwa. We are not sure whether he had been visiting or what. We are also not sure at this moment who the passengers in the car were and where they were from,” said Ganyaza.
She said Henyekane was supposed to come to Kimberley for the Easter weekend.
“He was supposed to come home for Easter, but it appears that he cancelled. We last saw him over Christmas because it was also during Joseph’s funeral,” she said.
Ganyaza said Richard’s mother informed her of his passing.
“I received a call from his mother at about 1am yesterday morning. She told me that she got a call that he was involved in an accident. She called the entire family and then rushed to Bethlehem to get the full information on what happened,” Ganyaza said.
Ganyaza said Henyekane never let the fame go to his head.
“He was a fun person, he loved to joke around. He was the opposite of his brother. Richard was a people’s person and would talk to a stranger as if he knew them for years. The fact that he was a famous soccer player did not influence the manner in which he treated people,” she said.
Henyekane played for the national soccer team, Bafana Bafana, nine times. He joined the Premier Soccer League outfit Free State Stars after playing for Mamelodi Sundowns.
Ganyaza said her nephew was tremendously talented and would have been noticed globally.
“For the amount of talent he had, he was supposed to be an international soccer player. His talent was rare, he was very good at what he did … but life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to,” she said.
Members of the soccer fraternity, nationally and provincially, sent their condolences to the family.
The South African Football Association (Safa) said that they are deeply shocked by the passing of Henyekane.
Safa president, Dr Danny Jordaan, said the soccer fraternity was still trying to come to terms with the passing of Henyekane’s brother.
“Another soldier has fallen. Richard’s passing comes at a time when we are not really done grieving the passing of his brother Joseph. Safa would like to send out our deepest sympathies to the family for their heartbreaking loss. We never know how much pain you are in but just know that you are in our prayers and we ask the Almighty to strengthen you in these trying times,” said Jordaan.
Free State Stars coach, Kinnah Phiri, said that he was saddened by the passing of Henyekane.
“I got a call to inform me of this sad news. I am very sorry for his passing and would like to convey my condolences on behalf of the club to the family. Richard has been a very promising player and we were very honoured when he joined Free State Stars from Sundowns. We last saw him play against AmaZulu and we are deeply touched by his untimely death,” said Phiri.
Henyekane played his last match for his club on April 4 when Free State Stars lost 1-0 to AmaZulu at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
In the 2008/09 season he won the Absa Premiership Top Goal Scorer Award with 19 goals.
His fellow player at Free State Stars, Reuben Thebakang, said it was always a pleasure to play with Henyekane.
“We played together and we had a really nice time. Richard was not only a good player, but a good person. He treated everyone equal and with respect … he will be dearly missed,” said Thebakang.
The MEC for Sport, Arts and Culture, Lebogang Motlhaping, also conveyed his condolences.
“Richard was a son of the soil of the Province who applied his exceptional soccer skills and talents at clubs such as Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Henyekane family and friends during this difficult time,” Motlhaping said.
The spokesman for Mamelodi Sundowns, Alex “Gold Fingers” Shakoane, described Henyekane’s passing as a “black day” for the soccer fraternity.
“We are deeply saddened. Richard was in a class of his own. Memories of him will remain with us forever. He has really touched each and everyone’s hearts at the Sundowns family and we had so many expectations from him. He will be remembered,” Shakoane said.
The ANC Youth League in the Northern Cape said in a statement that this “rising star had his feet firmly on the ground”.
“Henyekane was a disciplined soccer player who never allowed fame to go to his head. Young people should emulate his disciplined outlook and posture as he died a respected soccer star,” said the league.
The DA in the Province also conveyed their support to the family.
“Richard was an inspiration to the children of the Northern Cape. He showed that with hard work, you can accomplish your goals. We hope that those affected by his untimely passing will soon find peace in this challenging time,” the party said. - Diamond Fields Advertiser
Original source: City mourns Henyekane