Thousands gather for joint memorial honouring SA athletes

Senzo Meyiwa, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi & Phindile Mwelase will be remembered at the Standard Bank Arena today.

Soccer fans hold a poster of slain Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa ahead of a combined memorial service at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg on 30 October 2014. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Thousands of mourning sports fans are arriving at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg to bid farewell to three of South Africa's sport stars.

In a joint memorial, Senzo Meyiwa, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi and Phindile Mwelase will all be remembered this afternoon.

Orlando Pirates captain Meyiwa was shot dead at his girlfriend, singer Kelly Khumalo's Vosloorus house on Sunday evening.

Eight hundred metre track runner Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash and professional boxer Phindile Mwelase slipped into a coma two weeks ago after being knocked out during a fight.

A long rectangular table has been placed in front of the stadium, covered in white flowers.

Fans of all ages are quickly taking their seats, some wearing Orlando Pirates jerseys while others have draped South African flags over the chairs in front of them.

Church hymns are playing in the background as two large screens display the pictures of the three late sports stars, rounding off what some have described as the most devastating week in the country's sporting history.

Ministers, former sportsmen, club administrators and owners are all expected to attend.

Meyiwa, Mulaudzi and Mwelase will all be laid to rest on Saturday.

MAKHURA VISITS MEYIWA FAMILY

Meanwhile, in Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng Premier David Makhura has visited the Meyiwa family to personally convey his condolences.

Makhura, accompanied by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, briefed Meyiwa's mother on the investigation into her son's death.

Makhura embraced the Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain's mother warmly as she sat on a mattress grieving for her murdered son.

Speaking to the media afterwards, the Gauteng premier said the country has lost a hero and that police would not rest until his murderers are caught.

Makhura will also be attending Meyiwa's memorial service in Johannesburg, where he is expected to meet with the slain footballer's father Sam.

Umlazi residents have also organised a memorial which is expected to start later this afternoon.

The hunt for Meyiwa's killers is being coordinated by the police and a team of 10 private investigators hired by the soccer star's family.

The identikits of two suspects involved in the Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain's murder were released on Tuesday, triggering a major response from the public.