It was a morning training session like any other! Richards Bay players eager to pick themselves up after a narrow DStv Premiership home defeat to Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend.
No one would have anticipated what was about to happen. All along, Siphamandla Mtolo looked as fit as a fiddle, leading the team from the front.
That was until about 10:10am, just as the team was about to conclude its morning session after the last water break.
“A teammate who was standing next to him after the water break noticed he was about to fall and quickly caught. He then put him down on the grass for the medic to attend to him. At that point, he started having convulsions [shaking profusely],” a teammate who requested anonymity told FARPost.
It was then that he was rushed to the hospital, but sadly he didn’t make it.
The news of the 29-year-old midfielder’s passing shattered the Richards Bay dressing room, and left the South African football fraternity devastated.
For the players, it was a bitter pill to swallow, having played with them in the 1-0 loss to Chiefs on Saturday.
“The death of Siphamandla Mtolo wasn’t well received by the team,” the heartbroken star added.
“We’re all still wondering what could have taken the life of our teammate. This is honestly very tough for everyone in the club because he just collapsed. Siphamandla was not challenging for the ball or anything.
“He was just standing alone when he collapsed and had not even complained of any sickness.”
The player revealed that the team had arranged a therapy session for the players on Thursday.
“It was a traumatising experience for all of us, and the team will organise therapy for everyone on Thursday [8th of March],” he added.
‘Spepe’ as he was famously known by his teammates, played a pivotal role during the 2021/22 Motsepe Foundation Championship season when the club gained automatic promotion to the PSL.
However, Mloto had a difficult start to his maiden season in the top flight after suffering an injury setback that kept him out of the team for almost six months.
The former Uthongathi star made his return to Richards Bay match-day squad in December, and he has made eight appearances in the league.
Meanwhile, Richards Bay had a dream start in the top flight after accumulating 31 points, and they are positioned sixth on the league table.
They won eight games, drawn seven and lost seven times after 22 games played. Furthermore, Richards is the with the third-best defensive record behind Mamelodi Sundowns and TS Galaxy.
They conceded 16 goals, while Mamelodi Sundowns and TS Galaxy conceded eight and 16 goals, respectively.