Orlando Pirates have won the race to sign Bafana Bafana captain Thulani Hlatshwayo from Bidvest Wits.
Sources close to the player say Hlatshwayo has opted to play for Pirates rather than Mamelodi Sundowns‚ who had expressed interest in him after it emerged that Wits’ owners were selling the club.
“Pirates have got him. He has told Sundowns he will join Pirates‚” a source said.
Bidvest, the majority shareholder in Wits, has put the club up for sale and a deal with Limpopo business-person Masala Mulaudzi is already in place.
The impending sale has stirred up panic at the club, with several players now looking to secure a move and many‚ it is understood‚ reluctant to relocate to Limpopo‚ where the new owners will move the team.
Hlatshwayo‚ 30‚ is arguably Wits’ most prized asset and it was no surprise that both the Buccaneers and Sundowns were eager to have him. While Sundowns made the initial approach‚ Pirates are understood to have won Hlatshwayo’s heart.
His agent, Mike Ntombela, would not comment on whether the central defender was heading to Bucs.
“The fact of the matter is that he belongs to Wits. He renewed his contract and has two years to run still‚” Ntombela said.
“For anything to happen‚ Wits must give the go-ahead.”
Ntombela did confirm that both Pirates and Sundowns had shown interest in the player, but added that Hlatshwayo would decide where he wants to play.
“He decides for himself‚ I can only advise here and there‚ but ultimately‚ he decides. He can play at any team‚ including Sundowns and Pirates.”
Hlatshwayo has been on Pirates’ radar for more than two years‚ with Wits turning down an offer in 2019. The Clever Boys’ hand has now been forced by their impending sale‚ with several other players set to leave the club.
Sundowns put up bids for Hlatshwayo‚ Haashim Domingo and Deon Hotto‚ but a source said they would only succeed with Domingo at this stage as Hotto was still undecided about whether to join Sundowns or Bucs.