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MBABANE – Legendary Mbabane Highlanders and national team Sihlangu forward Thulani ‘Mau Mau’ Dlamini is no more.

The record-goal scoring machine, who holds the highest scoring record per season among the most recent legends’ generation from the 90s, was allegedly found dead in his car on Wednesday afternoon around Zombodze. ‘Mau Mau’, a former First National Bank (FNB) employee, was a revered star striker for Inkunz’emnyama during his time, after he was signed from Moneni Pirates. He once finished a season with 39 league goals, which made him the highest goalscorer of his time and none of the current crop of strikers has matched his feat.
Young Buffaloes’ attacking midfielder Sandile ‘Saviola’ Gamedze holds the latest stars’ record of 26 goals scored in the 2021/22 season.


However, historically, ‘Mau Mau’ is the second highest all-time top goalscorer in Eswatini as the most goals were netted by ex-Highlanders Master Dladla, Teenage Dladla’s brother who achieved 71 goals. “It’s hard to believe but I have confirmed it. I first heard from Kgotso Mncanyana on Wednesday afternoon and other team legends like Harare Thwala, while Innocent ‘Ten Ten’ Ginindza is said to have also spoken about it but we were all uncertain as no one from the family has confirmed.“I only got to believe it today (yesterday) when another Highlanders legend and former teammate and friend to ‘Mau Mau’, Cosmo Mavuso confirmed it, as he was the one the police called about it. “It appears Cosmo was ‘Mau Mau’’s emergency men in case anything happened to him so the police may have seen that in his car,” ex-Highlanders defender and now qualified coach Sifiso ‘Barnes’ Mkhulisi, responded when he was questioned about the sad news yesterday. Mkhulisi mourned the loss, saying for him it was hard to look at pictures of his former teammates now as most of them had passed away but goalkeeper Sipho ‘Shilton’ Dube and Mzwandile ‘Tito’ Mabuza were among a handful who live.

“I will always remember Mau Mau as the best forward I played with and there was a time where he topped with goals and was followed by Dambai,” Mkhulisi said. Meanwhile, ex-Highlanders’ legendary Public Relations Officer (PRO) Dumisani ‘DU’ Sibandze was shocked to learn of the news.“What? What happened and when? I was just talking about him as a one our revered goalscorers ever at Highlanders just yesterday (Wednesday). This is really sad and a dark cloud for the club to lose two of its former best strikers in a short space of time as this weekend its Gebi Zwane’s funeral.


“These two were so good with the net and ‘Mau Mau’ remains the best header at goal we’ve seen so far. I know there is ‘Sikhali’ and Felix now but they don’t even come close. I’m talking about a striker who scored 39 league goals in one season as a top goalscorer and his runner-up was Willy ‘Nkola’ Mwilly, who finished with 38 in that season. Highlanders used to be ruthless and brushed aside heavily anything on its way,” he said. Sibandze said it was devastating news for the club, country and families of the two former great footballers who will never be forgotten. Meanwhile, getting a comment from his immediate next of kin proved futile yesterday. Also called was the Chief Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati. However, she was not available as another officer answered. “I can confirm that there was a man aged around 55 years who was found dead near Mtilaneni River,” the officer responded.

Meanwhile, Mavuso who was close to ‘Mau Mau’ and even left Highlanders together with him to join the then Nkomanzi Sundowns, a team that was owned by the late Mashesha Nhlengetfwa, was still in denial yesterday afternoon.“Is Terra ‘Mau Mau’ dead? Let me call someone first then I’ll get back to because as much as the police called, I don’t want to speak about something I don’t understand. Do you understand it? I do not understand the whole thing right now,” Mavuso said in dismay.


He later returned to say he was refusing to believe it until he got it from his family, which he tried but in vain to reach. Highlanders’ patrons Secretary Musa Masuku had not been aware about the news on Wednesday when it first broke out in one of the social media groups. Called again yesterday, he was almost dumbfounded by the news.“I’m so shocked and confused what one has to do now because on Tuesday we were at Gebi ‘Zico’ Zwane’s home to mourn his passing with other legends of the club and at least two spoke about ‘Mau Mau’ who they had seen the previous day in good condition. We know ‘Mau’ lived in various homes including around Zombodze but that he was found dead in his car where we hear he also had with him is shocking.