Sikhumbuzo Moyo Senior Sports Reporter
FIVE people have been arrested over the death of a 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 are expected to appear in court today. 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 and some police sources insist he was murdered.
“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,” 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.
“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,” said Chief Supt Nyathi.
He said through investigations five suspects, among them the two who were nabbed at Renkini, have since been arrested.
A family spokesperson and sister to the late Hloli, Hlengiwe told this publication on Sunday that her brother was murdered and they were not buying the spike version.
“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,” Hlengiwe said on Sunday.
Asked to confirm whether one of the Dynamos supporters is a police officer, Chief Supt Nyathi said, “For their identity please call me tomorrow (today), I will be having the details”.
However, police sources confirmed that one of the suspects was a police officer based in Plumtree.
Meanwhile, the entire Highlanders team were last night expected to visit the bereaved family in Sizinda suburb where mourners are gathered.
“We will leave soon after training, which is around 5PM today (yesterday). I visited the family on Monday to pay our respects and the atmosphere was really sombre. The family just like all of us, was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy,” said Highlanders chief executive officer Ndumiso Gumede.