30 April 2018 – The South African Football Association (SAFA) has joined millions of football fans that are in mourning, following the sudden passing on of former Orlando Pirates midfielder Bheka Phakathi. He lost his life on Sunday, 29 April 2018 in a car accident while he was on his way to training at ABC Motsepe League club Umvoti FC. He was 43.
Phakathi rose to prominence while at Lamontville Golden Arrows in Durban before making the trek to Johannesburg to play for Pirates between 2002 and 2005. After his stint with the Buccaneers he returned to Arrows. He also turned out for Maritzburg United, before hanging up his boots in December 2010.
At the time of his passing on, Phakathi was the head coach of Umvoti FC in KZN, whom he led to the league title, and was busy with preparations for the upcoming National First Division (NFD) play-offs.
He made one appearance for Bafana Bafana, featuring in the 1-0 loss to Zimbabwe in the quarterfinal of the COSAFA Castle Cup on 19 July 2003.
“The South African Football Association (SAFA) is in mourning for the sudden and tragic loss of the life of Bheka Phakathi. We join millions of fans in the football family as we convey our deepest condolences to his family, relatives, friends and fans around the country. At this stage our thoughts and prayers go to everyone who knew him. May his soul rest in peace,” said SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble.
In recent times, several footballers lost their lives in car accidents – Cecil Lolo (Ajax Cape Town – 2015); Mondli Cele (Maritzburg United – 2016); Mondli Dlamini (Maritzburg United – 2017) and not so long ago, Mogau Tshehla (Polokwane City – 2018).
“This is heartbreaking to hear of another footballer/coach that has lost his life in a car accident, and again brings to the fore the debate of safety on our roads. This means we have to do more on this matter to ensure that our footballers are safer on the roads, as their passing robs the country of the immense talent they have.”
Phakathi also coached NFD side Royal Eagles on an interim basis, and was the assistant to Shaun Bartlett when Golden Arrows won the National First Division title in 2015/16 season.
BHEKA PHAKATHI FACT FILE:
- Born on May 7, 1974 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa
- Came to prominence while playing for Arrows before attracting the attention of Pirates
- Played for the Buccaneers between 2002 and 2005.
- Later returned to the KZN side and also played for Maritzburg United
- Hung up his boots in 2010
- Was assistant coach to Shaun Bartlett when Arrows won promotion back to the Premiership during the 2014/15 season
- He was coaching ABC Motsepe club Umvoti FC at the time of his passing – a team he had led to the NFD playoffs
- He also worked at UKhozi FM as a football analyst
- After retiring from football Phakathi had the stint at Arrows and Royal Eagles where he served as an assistant coach
- Helped Pirates to win the 2003 South African title
- Played as a striker on national team debut
- Started his career at Junior Aces before making his professional debut at Lamontville Golden Arrows
- Rejoined Arrows after his spell at Pirates
- Position: Midfielder
- Club: Lamontville Golden Arrows
- Caps: 1
- National team debut: v Zimbabwe, Cosafa Castle Cup, 19 July 2003
- Cautions: 0
- Caps per club: Orlando Pirates 1