“I don’t want this to spoil his legacy. This is important to me. He touched people’s lives and it was an honor to be part of his story.”
Xolani Luvuno, the amputee athlete who captivated thousands of South Africans died early Monday at his home in Elardus Park, Pretoria. His mentor Hein Venter, who found Luvuno’s body, spoke to TimesLIVE about the circumstances surrounding the athlete’s death.
“Xolani was drunk the night before he died,” said Venter. “It wasn’t a habit he made. In the five and a half years I’ve known him, I’ve seldom abused him. He was transformed. “
Venter was referring to Luvuno’s previous struggles with drug addiction. He was living on the streets in 2016 when Venter first met him and helped him change his life.
Luvuno’s leg was amputated for bone cancer in 2009 and he spent five years in prison at the beginning of the 1920s inspiring path to becoming an athlete competing in the Comrades and half Ironman races resulted in the duo holding more than 120 motivational conversations together on SA.
But, Venter said, in the Last months Luvuno’s social influences had exposed him to alcohol.
On the night of September 19th, Venter went to Luvuno’s house and found him drunk. He said he expected the athlete to fall asleep and wake up with a hangover.
Luvuno, who was also employed by Venter, didn’t come to work the next morning and Venter made his way to the house. He said he found an unresponsive Luvuno and an empty pill bottle.
Police have confirmed an investigation into the death has been initiated.
Captain David Miller told TimesLIVE that one was Autopsy would be done.
Venter said he knew there would be questions about Luvuno’s death.
“He was a lucky guy who loved life. He was a different person than he [drank] and wasn’t thinking clearly. “
Venter, who was often seen next to Luvuno at races, said he wanted Luvuno’s legacy to be remembered.
“In a way, he also took care of me. That was what made him special. He had an incredible way of being generous with his time and love. He was sensitive to the struggles of others and could understand the energies of others easily. ”
Venter said Luvuno recently contacted his father, whom he hadn’t seen in years.
When the police arrived at the athlete’s house after his death Venter found Luvuno’s father’s number on his phone and called him to tell him his son had died.
“It’s very unreal,” said Venter. “I said on Facebook that it doesn’t have to end like this. And it wasn’t. “