Members of the Bloemfontein-based Centre City Titaniums Athletics Club personified camaraderie by paying a fitting tribute to slain teammate Moeketsi Selemela (46) at the Comrades Marathon on Sunday (28/08).
Running in memory of their deceased teammate, members of the club managed to secure 34 medals in silver and bronze.
Following Moeketsi’s murder, the 36 members made it their ultimate goal to each secure a medal in the gruelling event staged in KwaZulu-Natal. Moeketsi was killed on 17 July – which was 41 days before the race.
While 34 members finished, injury and ill health forced two to withdraw from the down run route, which started at the City Hall in Pietermaritzburg, finishing at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Moeketsi had registered as the club’s 37th member to take part in the 95th edition of this ultramarathon, dubbed the Ultimate Human Race. This would have been his fifth Comrades appearance.
His spirit prevailed. Sibling Thabang Selemela (51) completed the gruelling race wearing the race number of his slain brother. He also carried a giant poster bearing the smiling face of Moeketsi, affectionately named Kakapa, which loosely translated to English means “the strong one”.
Courage saw him and teammate Thami Binda to the finishing line. They made a grand entrance in the Moses Mabhida Stadium, holding the poster, and completed the race side-by-side.
This was a double-edged sword for surviving sibling, Thabang.
“It was a very emotional course.We were always together in the Comrades and other races – even in events such as cycling, football and karate,” he explains.
“It was fitting to finish the race to honour his memory, wearing his race number and holding a poster bearing his face. We both decided this year’s Comrades was our very last. I felt strongly about taking his number to run the race, given it was meant to be his last race as per our commitment. I did not do this to cheat the system, but to honour my brother’s memory.
“Completing the race in his memory gives a sense of satisfaction. This is a healing process as I’m trying to find closure on his brutal murder and why criminals ended his life,” said Thabang.
Teboho Lemao, chairperson of the club, strongly believes the club’s 34 Comrades medals resonates with the winning spirit of the late Moeketsi.
“The team came through and delivered on the promise and undertaking to run the 2022 Comrades in Moeketsi’s memory. We trust that Moeketsi will rest peacefully with the knowledge that we will always honour his memory at his club,” he said.
As tribute, the club created specially designed jerseys with Moeketsi’s signature.
“This is also historic in that this was the first time the club entered the Comrades, and getting 34 medals is a fitting tribute, too.”