Murdered footballer Marc Batchelor was no angel - but was an ace flyhalf, says his brother
Warren Batchelor on Thursday told mourners that his brother, slain footballer Marc Batchelor, was "no angel" and had made some poor decisions.
“In the past few years, he kind of lost his way and he went down the wrong path. And during this time was when he pushed me away. Marc and I have been estranged for nearly three years now over some stupid argument," he said at Batchelor's memorial service at The Crossing Church in Midrand on Thursday.
"We were on the verge of reconciling and were planning to meet and talk soon - and then I got that call last Monday night,” Warren said.
He was referring to the night of July 15, when Batchelor was gunned down in the driveway of his Olivedale home in Johannesburg. His assailants were two gunmen armed with semi-automatic assault rifles, riding on a white motorcycle.
“Crime in this country is out of control," said Warren. "Something needs to be done. Too many beautiful people are dying. What is being done about this? We have to do something. How many more funerals do we have to have?”
Former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker Marc Batchelor's funeral service was held in Midrand. Family and friends paid tribute to the slain legendary footballer. Most described Mark as a wild card with a big heart. Former football colleagues paid their respects with a few funny stories, and heavy hearts.
Pastor Tony Sivewright, who spoke at the start of the memorial, said: "He [Batchelor] wasn't good. He was bad. If we compare ourselves with others, we're good. If we compare ourselves with God, we're bad."
The service for the former Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates striker got under way shortly after midday.
In an emotional address, Warren said the family buried their father three years ago. He died from Huntington's disease. It was only on Tuesday, in the wake of the murder, that he found out his brother had the same disease.
"It explains a lot of his behaviour. I’m not going to make excuses for him, but it explains a lot to me. Marc was no angel. He lost his way," he said.
Poking fun at Batchelor's hairstyles, Warren said their hairdresser mom would not have been thrilled.
“It obviously didn’t rub off on Marc, because in the past two years, the hairstyle I’ve seen him having, my mother would be turning in her grave," he joked.
Warren said "Batch" excelled at all sports and was an ace flyhalf.
“He could have played Springbok rugby. Wearing the 10, he was a flyhalf of note. He could convert a penalty or a drop goal from almost anywhere on the pitch. Sorry, Naas [Botha]," he said.
Some of the former footballers present included Pollen Ndlanya, Shaun Bartlett, Mark Williams and Neil Tovey.
Batchelor’s brother-in-law, Archie Henson, said he made “a lot of bad choices with the company he kept" and in business dealings.
“This caused him to lose contact with many of the people who cared about him the most. Over the past two years I got to spend a lot of time with Marc and I asked him why he had made the choices that he had. Then he said he regretted he had hurt and ignored people.
"He explained that after retiring from soccer and losing his SuperSport contract, finances did become an issue. As many of you knew, Batch was an extremely proud man. It would bother him immensely to ask for help. This forced him to become even more isolated and antisocial, but still telling people that everything was fine," he said.
Williams, Batchelor’s former Kaizer Chiefs teammate, told those gathered about the pair's trip to China, where he represented Batchelor as his agent.
Williams booked business class tickets. When they were checking in, Williams asked if they could be upgraded to first class because Batchelor was too tall to sit in business class. They were upgraded, but there was a problem: Williams had bought a Nando’s chicken.
“Now I’m here in first class. I’m opening the Nando’s and the lady says that in first class you’re not allowed to eat Nando’s chicken. You must put it in the toilet. I asked if I could eat it. She said, 'ja, but in the toilet'. I go in the toilet, I grab the chicken,” Williams said.
“Two hours later, Batch looks at me and says, ‘Mark, is there something left of that chicken?’ I said, 'Ja, in the toilet'. He goes to the toilet and finishes the other half.”
Batchelor’s former Orlando Pirates teammate Edward Motale said that when the team adapted so-called “carpet football” - which was a strategy of moving the ball along the ground instead of playing more direct, long-ball football - it was a tough adjustment for Batchelor, whose physical stature help win aerial battles.
Motale wanted to force Batchelor to focus on playing the ball with his feet instead of just caring about winning crosses and long-balls in the air, so they struck a deal: every time Batchelor touched one of Motale’s crosses he had to pay Motale R50 and if he, Batchelor, touched any of the crosses from any of the two wingers, he owed Motale R25.
“That’s how I made my money out of Batch, because obviously I wasn’t earning that well. You know, whites were still earning more than us.”
Motale said Batchelor was superstitious whenever he scored a goal.
“After every game he scored a goal, he loved me to go with him and have a drink with him somewhere around Bedfordview.
"Driving with him would be stop-start because every time he saw an ambulance or he heard a siren, he would stop on the side and do this funny thing," said Motale, who acted out with a pinching fist gesture how Batchelor would point to the sides of his temples, shoulders and temples.
Batchelor played centre-forward and his career spanned the 1990s and early 2000s. He also played for Dynamos‚ Bidvest Wits‚ SuperSport United‚ Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows.
Sunday Times reported that Batchelor was returning home with his gardener, who requested anonymity, and his dog, Dakota, when the gunmen struck. Neighbourhood CCTV footage shows the gunmen trailed Batchelor’s white BMW X5 for several kilometres before firing seven bullets through the driver’s window and one through the car door.
At least six bullets struck Batchelor in the chest and one struck Dakota in the stomach. The animal is in a stable condition. The gardener was unharmed.
The Sunday Times reported that police are investigating whether Batchelor was killed in a revenge hit for his alleged role in stealing a ton of cocaine, smuggled into SA late last year.
The police are also investigating the murder of Serbian national Ivan Djordjevic, who was killed in a similar attack at his Bryanston home in April. Djordjevic and Batchelor went into business together last year.
Crime intelligence sources told the Sunday Times the two were allegedly involved in stealing cocaine, which entered SA from Brazil and the Netherlands, via Port Elizabeth and Cape Town harbours, in December last year.
A Johannesburg private investigator and debt collector was arrested for allegedly stealing Batchelor’s phone from the crime scene and deleting information from it.
Times Select reported on Tuesday that the man was one of Batchelor’s business acquaintances. He was arrested for defeating the ends of justice, but was released on Monday.