Rulani Mokwena on Siphamandla Mtolo death

Rulani Mokwena sitting on a cooler box during DStv Premiership match

Mamelodi Sundowns head coach Rulani Mokwena has expressed his condolences to Richards Bay defensive midfielder Siphamandla Mtolo’s family, after the player collapsed on Tuesday morning during a training session.

Mtolo, also known as Spepe, has played nine matches in all competitions for the Natal Rich Boys this season. He joined Richards Bay in 2020 from Uthongathi FC, helped his team to promotion to the PSL. His death has shocked the football fraternity.

“It is with deep sadness to announce that Richards Bay Football Club has untimely lost one of the midfielders, Siphamandla ‘Spepe’ Mtolo who collapsed this morning during training,” read a statement released by Richards Bay on their social media platforms.

Mokwena has revealed that when his team was preparing for the Last-32 Nedbank Cup match against Richards Bay, Mtolo was one of the players they analysed and coach Manqoba Mngqithi even mentioned he could start.

“Just [a] few weeks ago I was doing analysis on Richards Bay and I was studying  him [Siphamandla Mtolo] in the analysis room. Coach Manqoba [Mngqithi] even mentioned that he’s a possibility to start, just a couple of weeks ago and when we were playing the Nedbank Cup.  I said to the players, you see how short life is and we take this gift for granted,” said Mokwena on Radio 947 on Tuesday evening.

“Sometimes we forget how much of a gift just being alive is, when you think about what happened to Mtolo, may his soul rest in peace,” he stated.

The Sundowns coach also reflected on the death of his former player, Motjeka Madisha in December 2020 as a result of a car crash. He says Madisha’s death left a scar that he’ll never heal from, and we should show sympathy to the club Mtolo played for and his family.

“Maybe I experienced something that’s so painful, losing the late Madisha was a scar that I will probably never heal from. Maybe we started by speaking about it, but not really expressing sincere condolences to the Richards Bay family, the Mtolo family and everybody who knew him,” he added.

“But the late Madisha Motjeka’s passing was something that took me to another side, because when you coach, you move into a space where you spend so much time with the players, with the football club, and you become a family. And then to have witnessed Madisha remains in the car, for me it was so devastating.

“It was a moment where I just felt that life can be unfair but the unfairness of life also presents the opportunities for many of us to understand that what we do is something that we are privileged to be doing. For example, Motjeka played 99 games for Mamelodi Sundowns and was short of a century, but God timing is God timing,” he ended.

So far, it’s still unknown when Mtolo will be buried, but the club indicated that further statements will follow in due course.

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