JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thomas Madigage, the assistant coach of South Africa's national soccer team, was killed in a car crash early Friday. He was 41.
Madigage died after his car crashed into a donkey on a highway in Limpopo Province about 300 kilometers (185 miles) from Johannesburg, the South African Football Association said in a statement. He was alone in the car.
"We are shocked and at a loss for words and as we speak. We would like to pass our sincere condolences to the family, friends and the entire nation on this shocking development," association president Kirsten Nematandani said.
The national team head coach, Gordon Igesund, said he was devastated by the death.
"I have known Tommy for many years. He was not only my assistant, he was much more than that," Igesund said in a statement. "He was a friend. Since working together, he had become part of my family. You can't get a better human being than what Tommy was. He was humble, loyal, committed and sincere. He was so happy to be a part of the Bafana Bafana setup and he had so much to contribute."
Madigage died only days after South Africa beat Kenya 2-1 in a friendly in Nairobi, and Igesund said his assistant was "so looking forward to the Nations Cup finals and it will be very difficult to participate without him." South Africa will host the African Cup in 2013.
"We often think that football is very important, but compared to this, it is nothing," Igesund said.
Madigage, a long-serving assistant coach at Premiership club SuperSport United, was appointed assistant to Igesund in July
Dikobe Ben Martins, South Africa's transport minister, urged the country to reflect on its poor road-safety record in the aftermath of Madigage's death.
"We urge motorists to exercise great caution on the roads at all times," Martins said. "Everyone of us has an opportunity to reverse the carnage on our roads. Only a partnership between all spheres of government, the private sector and civil society will see us making progress in reducing the current road fatality rate."