JOHANNESBURG (AP) South Africans will go to a memorial service at a sports stadium to pay their final respects to three sporting figures who died within three days of each other.
As news spread of the death of Olympic silver medalist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, the country learned of the murder of popular national soccer team captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa and less than a day later the sports ministry announced that professional boxer Phindile Mwelase had died.
The ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that the combined memorial service would be held in Johannesburg at Ellis Park sports stadium, which holds more than 6,000 people, on Thursday.
''As a nation we have celebrated the victories of these three national sports athletes together and now we stand together to bid them farewell,'' said Aleck Skhosana, president of Athletics South Africa.
Meyiwa, who was also the goalkeeper of Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa's most popular club soccer teams, was shot in an apparent robbery on Sunday night and police have released drawings of two men involved in the incident. No arrests have been made yet.
South Africa's national soccer coach Ephraim Mashaba has delayed naming the squad set to play in two qualifying games in the African Cup of Nations. Mashaba, who was due to announce the team on Thursday, said Meyiwa would have been the first name on his list.
Mulaudzi, a former 800-meter world champion who carried South Africa's flag during the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics, was killed in a car crash on Friday.
Female welterweight fighter Mwelase died in hospital Saturday after being in a coma for two weeks after she was knocked out during a fight. Her death was announced on Monday.
All three will be buried in their respective hometowns over the weekend.