A fundraising campaign to have Lindani Myeni’s body returned to South Africa has raised over R285,000, as of Tuesday 5pm.
The 29-year-old South African was allegedly shot by the Hawaii police multiple times when they responded to a reported burglary in progress.
Local media reported that Hawaii authorities had tried non-lethal force first before using live ammunition because the “suspect… was repeatedly punching” police officers.
Myeni is believed to have been unarmed. Honolulu police defended the officers’ actions, saying they defended themselves against a violent suspect who attacked them first. According to Hawaii News Now, three officers were injured in the incident.
The crowdfunding campaign aims to “cover his transportation back home to South Africa, funeral costs and legal fees involved in the family’s plight to uncover the circumstances surrounding his death”.
On the GoFundMe page, organiser Seabelo Silitshena said: “He was a gentle, strong, healthy man whose deep love for his family was seconded by a passion for his homeland and Zulu culture. A former professional rugby player, Rio Tinto mechanical engineer, a former South African [Idols] top 25 contestant and camp scouts director, Lindani Sanele Myeni, had an ever-present smile as big as he was and belonged to a royal bloodline.”
Myeni is survived by his wife and two children.
The married father of two hailed from KwaZulu-Natal. He moved to Hawaii in January and was married to Lindsay, a US citizen.
A former rugby player, Myeni’s former teammates and managers disputed the police’s version of events.
They told News24 that Myeni was disciplined and kind and denied that he was violent.
The US embassy in Pretoria told News24 that they were monitoring the investigation into the shooting.
“This is a tragic incident, and we are carefully following the investigation by local Hawaiian authorities into the details of Mr Myeni’s tragic death,” said embassy spokesperson Robert Mearkle on Monday.