THE local sports fraternity has been plunged into mourning following the death of boxing star, Inkululeko ‘Matsipane’ Suntele, who was stabbed to death in a brawl that took place in Maseru last Friday.
The23-year old Suntele was reportedly stabbed while recuperating from stab wounds inflicted on him a few weeks earlier by the same culprit.
Suntele represented the country at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil. He won gold at the2012 Supreme Council for Sports in Africa in Zambia.
Lesotho Amateur Boxing Association (LABA) public relations officer, Katiso Tšenoli, this week told the Lesotho Times that “his death has hurt us a lot because we expected so much from him”.
“He was among our athletes that were given the Olympic Solitary Scholarship along with another boxer, Moroke Mokhotho, because we hoped that they could bring medals in competitions like the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.”
“We had given him time to recover after he was stabbed in another brawl and the suspect is now in police custody.”
Tšenoli said it was important for the country to take away sporting talents like Suntele from the townships where there was a lot of bad influence which could destroy their potential.
“We need academies to keep our talented athletes away from the bad influence from their communities who are also a danger to them,” he said, adding they would hold a memorial service ahead of his burial on 11 November.
Former LABA president Ramakhula, said, “It is a huge loss to the country”.
“I discovered him while he was still very young. He used to compete with his brothers who were older than him.
“I am hurting because this could have been avoided. I had asked the Lesotho National Olympic Committee (LNOC) to put him on a scholarship outside the country.
“He grew up at Thibella/Sea Point (a township well known for drugs, alcoholism and gangsterism)
“Clearly when you grow-up in such a place knowing how to fight you invite things such as brawls where you could end up being stabbed.”
Ramakhula said as an Olympics Suntele should have been afforded greater protection as it was not the first time that he was stabbed.
“He met the qualifying standards for the Olympics and this is something that Lesotho had not done since 1999.
“He had the potential to go to three or four Olympics but now he is gone.”
For his part, LNOC vice secretary, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, who accompanied Team Lesotho to the Rio Olympics, said Suntele’s death was big blow for boxing and sports in general.
“It’s a big loss to our country considering his age and the experience he had gathered over the last few years.
“I wonder how long it will take the country to replace him,” Ntsibolane said.