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Netball players’ death a serious blow to South Africa, says Nathi Mthethwa

An emotional Proteas netball captain, Bongiwe Msomi, sings the national anthem at the start of the Spar SA Netball Championships at a school in Bellville. Netball South Africa is in mourning. An accident on Sunday claimed the lives of three players and a coach as they travelled from Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape to Bellville. It is understood that the bus was carrying two teams from the OR Tambo district. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

An emotional Proteas netball captain, Bongiwe Msomi, sings the national anthem at the start of the Spar SA Netball Championships at a school in Bellville. Netball South Africa is in mourning. An accident on Sunday claimed the lives of three players and a coach as they travelled from Aberdeen in the Eastern Cape to Bellville. It is understood that the bus was carrying two teams from the OR Tambo district. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 6, 2021

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Cape Town — South Africa's Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa is mourning the loss of four people from the Eastern Cape netball fraternity following the tragic accident in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The deceased were part of the OR Tambo district contingent on the way to the 2021 Spar National Championships, which started in Bellville on Monday. They were Nocamagu Mvunyiswa (coach) and three players Phelo Charles, Indiphile Mfengu and Thabisile Maxikika.

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Mthethwa has asked the Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nocawe Mafu to work closely with Fezeka Nkomonye, the Eastern Cape MEC for Sports, Arts and Culture. Together they will engage the grieving families of the deceased and offer support at this time.

ALSO READ: Four die in bus accident carrying Eastern Cape netball team and officials to Cape Town

Mthethwa also sent condolences to Netball South Africa, the country's netball controlling body.

Mthethwa statement read: “My deepest condolences to the families of the deceased. This tragic death of these athletes is indeed a serious blow to the nation and netball, which is a fast-growing sport.

"These athletes were destined to participate in one of the tournaments that were meant to select future stars ahead of the 2023 Netball World Cup scheduled to take place in Cape Town.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones during this difficult period."

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A candlelight ceremony was held on Monday to mark the passing of three netball players and a coach at the official opening of the 2021 Spar National Championships in Bellville. In attendance was NSA President Cecilia Molokwane and Yandiswa Makasi of the Buffalo City netball team. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Earlier on Monday, Netball South Africa President Cecilia Molokwane remembered the deceased at the opening ceremony where she led a candlelight ceremony. She started by calling on those present to observe a minute's silence.

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Apart from the participating teams, the ceremony was attended by government officials from Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Several members of the national team were present. They are presently in a training camp in Stellenbosch.

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Netball South Africa informs that of the 25 people who were hospitalised on Sunday, four are still in critical condition. Several have already been released, and Netball South Africa will have more information in due course.

Netball South Africa will work closely with Eastern Cape Netball, the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture in the province, and the families of the deceased. Details about the funeral and memorial service information will be made known in due course.

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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