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COMMENT: No life should be lost in the name of football

HOOLIGANISM in football dates back to ancient times when the game was first played competitively in England. The world has witnessed a number of serious clashes from rival team fans or rival national team fans and with time, Fifa, working with the police, has even blacklisted some known hooligans from attending any football match.

While violence in football was relatively low in recent years in the country, serve for incidents of missile throwing into the field of play, what happened this past weekend really shook the whole country.

The death of a Highlanders fanA� while under attack from Dynamos fans has got everyone talking, football and none football fans alike and the message is the same a�� no life should be lost in the name of football.

While Highlanders and Dynamos have their long standing rivalry, it becomes worrying when such rivalry spills outside the football field and people fight running battles in the streets, resulting in the loss of property and human life. That is barbaric behaviour that should be condemned for what it is.

Our sister paper, Chronicle reported during the week that fiveA� people were arrested over the death of the Highlanders fan, Thembelenkosini Hloli, soon after the Bosso-DeMbare league match at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.

A police officer, suspected to be from Plumtree, is among the suspects who were expected to appear in court during the week.

However, there have been conflicting statements on the cause of death of 23-year-old Hloli as the official position from the police is that he fell on gate spikes while running away from charging Dynamos supporters while the family insists he was murdered.

a�?Police are conducting investigations and we have in custody five suspects, not necessarily from Dynamos. After the match between Highlanders and Dynamos at Barbourfields Stadium there was crowd trouble and five vehicles belonging to football fans and two from the police were damaged,a�? said national police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi.

He said one of the soccer fans who had his vehicle stoned managed to identify a group of five men among them Hloli who they chased after.

a�?Two guys ran towards a wholesale firm near Renkini and were immediately arrested by security officers manning the premises, the other two made good their escape while the now deceased tried to jump over the wall of the next building where his friends had just been arrested. Unfortunately he went through some spikes and was badly injured. An ambulance was called but unfortunately when it arrived he had already passed on,a�? said Chief Supt Nyathi.

Nonetheless, a family spokesperson and sister to the late Hloli, Hlengiwe, said her brother was murdered and they were not buying the spike version.

a�?He has two stab wounds in the left and right side of his stomach. Initially we were told that he fell on gate spikes but then his body has two deep wounds and the police said if he fell he would have sustained multiple wounds,a�? Hlengiwe said on Sunday.