Lebese 'died of Aids'
The family of former Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Bafana Bafana star Thabang Lebese revealed last night that the player died of complications related to HIV/Aids.
Lebese died at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg 13 days ago. He was 38.
Fana Chabangu, speaking on behalf of the Lebese family, told Metro FM last night that the player had planned to disclose his status had he made it out of hospital.
Chabangu said the family wanted to end speculation regarding what had led to Lebese's death.
"He [Lebese] would have wanted it this way. Shortly before he died, he told his mother [Florence] that he had something big to tell her. Unfortunately, he was not able to make it. He had already told some of his friends about his HIV status," said Chabangu.
He said "Chilies", as Lebese was popularly known in South African football circles, had worked closely with the Show Me Your Number HIV/Aids initiative, counselling scores of people infected with or affected by HIV.
But, according to Chabangu, the soccer star never had the "courage" to tell his mother that he had been suffering from the disease.
"By coming out, we want to say to people, if you are like Thabang, please don't be shy. Rather speak to someone closer to you than suffer in silence on your own," Chabangu told the radio station.
Unaware of the real reasons behind Lebese's illness, the family themselves accused the hospital of gross negligence on February 22, the day Lebese died.
Lebese, who won the 2002 Premier League title with Pirates, was admitted to hospital several weeks ago with complaints of a "stiff neck and terrible headache".
The family claimed his condition had worsened after being admitted, but the Gauteng department of health denied this.
"He never told us until a few days before he died. So, as a family, we were also unaware and thought he was just stressed," said Chabangu.
In an interview with a Sunday newspaper in January, Lebese, who featured in 279 top-flight football matches in his 13-year glittering career, said he had wasted his money.
"I have some advice for the current PSL players. They shouldn't be like me.
"I did not make good decisions and I wasted my money on cars and women. Now I have nothing," he said at the time.
Lebese was buried at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg on Friday.
The funeral was attended by football administrators, former footballers and current players.
Lebese scored 87 goals during his footballing career and won one Bafana cap.