Zimbabwe defender Thomas Sweswe has controversially performed a last-minute u-turn to join South African side Bidvest Wits, despite being thought to be on the verge of signing for fellow Premier Soccer League outfit Black Leopards.
Sweswe, who had played for South African giants Kaizer Chiefs since 2009, was recently deemed surplus to requirements after the club signed fellow defenders Siboniso Gaxa and Morgan Gould. A move to PSL strugglers Black Leopards appeared to be on the cards – with South African press claiming the deal was “90 percent done” – but a late collapse meant Sweswe instead joined the 12th-placed Wits.
The centre-back has never been far from controversy – in February Sweswe was one of 80 players banned from playing for the Zimbabwe national team after being suspected of match-fixing during a tour of Asia, dubbed “Asiagate” by the country’s football association.
And, earlier this month, Sweswe was one of four players caught dining with former ZIFA chief Henrietta Rushwaya – a man recently arrested for match-fixing and corruption.
This transfer may not be on the same scale, but aggrieved Black Leopards fans will be annoyed that their team are missing out on the 30-year-old defender’s experience. Since beginning his career with Zimbabwean side CAPS United in 2001, Sweswe has competed in the CAF Champions League, played 28 of Kaizer Chief’s 30 PSL fixtures in 2009-10, and won 13 caps for his country (although that figure is unlikely to increase in the near future!)
By joining Bidvest, nicknamed The Clever Boys, Sweswe will play in front of compatriot goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro, and alongside former Kaizer Chiefs team-mate Tinashe Nengomasha, who has also recently joined Bidvest. Says Sweswe: “It’s a two-year deal and I am happy that I have signed with a Johannesburg club. I am at home here in Johannesburg and I aim to continue working hard, as I have always done, to help my new club win trophies. It also feels good that I will be playing with Tinashe. We come a long way together from the juniors up to the senior national team. We were also played together at Chiefs and I believe we make a good team.”
Sweswe could possibly partner Aaron Mokoena in central defence if the Portsmouth man’s transfer comes through. Mokoena is demanding £600,000 from the Fratton Park side in unpaid wages, but Pompey administrator Trevor Birch has claimed the club could face liquidation by handing over the payments, also demanded by Mokoena’s team-mates Kanu and Tal Ben Haim. The 31-year-old’s experience and versatility – he is also able to play in midfield – would greatly benefit Bidvest Wits, but the transfer appears to have hit a snag and there is a good chance it will now not come off.
Sweswe’s new side are also targeting ex-Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari, also currently at Portsmouth. Benjani won almost 50 caps for Zimbabwe during a 11-year international career, scoring 29 times.
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