Family, friends and football colleagues described slain footballer and television commentator Marc Batchelor, who famously wore the No 25 jersey, as a born sportsman who was kind, caring and giving.
During a funeral service at The Crossing Church in Midrand on Thursday, several mourners gathered to bid farewell to the 50-year old former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates player.
He also played for several other PSL teams.
Legendary former footballers, Mark Williams, Shaun Bartlett, Neil Tovey and Pollen Ndlanya, who played alongside Batchelor, also attended.
Batchelor’s gardener, Pexy Nyirongo, who was with him when he was gunned down on Monday last week, was among the six pallbearers who carried the coffin. Nyirongo struggled to hold back his tears.
News24 earlier reported that Batchelor’s first reaction when the gunman opened fire was to shield Nyirongo.
Addressing the congregation, Batchelor’s brother Warren said Batchelor could take to any ball game and excel at it.
Warren said that although he was the eldest, he looked up to Batchelor as a hero and protector because he always looked out for him.
“Marc was no angel. The past few years he went down the wrong path and [it was] during this time when he pushed me away along with a lot of his close friends,” an emotional Warren said.
He said the decisions Batchelor had made during his life had led him to distance himself from his loved ones. However, he added that at the time of his death, Batchelor had picked up the pieces and was trying to reconcile with his loved ones.
“The scene on Monday night was horrific and I don’t wish that on anybody else. I would not leave the scene until I knew my boet (brother) was saved.
“Once they got him out the car, I was allowed to… give him a kiss on his head and at that moment, I knew we had reconciled [and] found our peace,” he said.
He urged South Africans to unite against crime as it was getting out of hand, adding that it was time for “something to be done”.
“How many more funerals do we have to have before somebody does something?” he asked.
There was also laughter as the former striker’s friends shared their anecdotes.
Williams shared an incident in which they had travelled abroad with Batchelor and were involved in a fist fight with bouncers, which made news headlines.
“The next day, in the newspapers, they said they are looking for a blonde male and a black guy.”
“When I heard the news that he was shot I couldn’t believe it. He wouldn’t want me to come sit here and cry. I had some quality time with him. He had a good heart and I met all his friends, the guys with tattoos. Sometimes I was scared because I don’t like tattoos,” Williams said and the congregation laughed.
– FOLLOW News24 on Twitter