Football star killed in Soweto carjacking

SOUTH AFRICA'S prospects for staging the 2006 World Cup suffered a setback yesterday with the violent death in a Soweto carjacking of one the country's leading football personalities. Clarence Mlokoti, 69, a director and co-founder of Kaizer Chiefs, one of the country's most popular soccer clubs, was shot while travelling in the township near Johannesburg with his wife and daughter on Tuesday evening, his brother Mlungisi said yesterday.

One of the greatest hurdles faced by South Africa, rivalling England, Germany, Brazil and Morocco in bidding to stage the World Cup, is the country's image as one of the most violent in the world.

Mlokoti, a former Soweto headmaster, was reportedly shot in the back as his car was stolen. Soweto police confirmed the incident, adding that the car had been found, but would not release further details.

Neil Tovey, ex-captain of Kaizer Chiefs, said yesterday: "It's very unfortunate that such things have to happen to people that are very good to the world. Clarence was a person who offered a lot to the club. He was always happy to lend a helping hand and listen. It's very sad that he had to go in this fashion."

South Africa's soccer image was already tarnished. The head of the premier league, Joe Ndhlela, was recently suspended after being charged with fraud and corruption involving nearly one million rands (pounds 100,000), allegedly committed while he worked at a state transport company.

South Africa, for years excluded from international sport as a result of apartheid-era sanctions, staged the rugby world cup in 1995, the African Cup of Nations (soccer) in 1996 and the All-Africa athletics games this year.

The country has good sports facilities by third-world standards but the high crime rate is an issue of concern.

The South African sports minister, Ngconde Balfour, condemned the murder, saying Molokoti's death was a big loss to both his family and the sports community.

"It is worse to lose a man of his calibre, who was involved in social upliftment, in such a brutal way," he said.

The team's managing director, Kaizer Motaung, said he believed the killing was a criminal matter, not linked to the rivalries and cash scandals which plague South African football from time to time.

Mlokoti, who is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son, is understood to have been visiting a friend in Soweto at the time of the attack. He is believed to have been parked by the side of the road when the carjackers struck.

He sustained wounds to his right shoulder, back and groin and was rushed to a Soweto clinic where he died.