'He was a pioneer‚ a mentor‚ and a friend' - Joe Mafela's friends and colleagues pay tribute to him

By Kyle Zeeman & Karishma Thakurdin

In the wake of veteran actor Joe Mafela’s death on Saturday night‚ his friends have remembered the massive contribution he made to the acting fraternity and the “humble” man who made the nation laugh.

Mafela’s sudden death has left those who were close to him in a state of shock.

Actor Luthuli Dlamini‚ who spoke to TshisaLIVE from Sun City where the annual South African Film and Televison Awards (Saftas) took place over the weekend‚ said they were all devastated by Mafela’s death.

“I am at the Saftas at the moment and the mood is sad and sombre. Nobody here can believe it and we are all still in shock. Everybody is sharing how Joe touched their lives and their art – so it is clear that he played a massive part in building the industry in South Africa‚” he said.

’We have been praying for strength’- Joe Mafela’s family distraught by his death

Luthuli added that Mafela’s willingness to help and give advice to younger actors inspired him.

“He was an incredible person‚ a light and inspiration not only in his art but also in his love for people. He was a pioneer‚ a mentor‚ and a friend and we will miss him.”

Veteran actress Lillian Dube and close friend recounted how happy he was on Saturday.

“He just returned from a cruise with his wife and he wanted to show me his photos. His death was a shock and I am very sad but I am grateful that God gave SA a chance to see his talent‚“Lillian told TshisaLIVE.

The actress said she and Joe discussed not being invited to the Saftas and how they felt like they were “forgotten“.

” I asked him how he could go on a cruise while the Saftas was on and he said that he was not invited. I was not invited either. We spoke about the industry and how we were being marginalised and not being given enough respect for what we’ve done. We need to be honoured while we are still alive not forgotten‚” she added

Veteran actor and president of the Creative Cultural Industries of SA‚ Tony Kgoroge‚ echoed Lillian’s sentiments.

“We cannot be allowed to let pioneers of the industry like Ma Dube and Joe Mafela to be forgotten. This needs to be rectified and these legends honoured while they are still alive‚” he said.

Tony described Mafela as a brother and a friend‚ who would be sorely missed. “His giant personality filled the room and will leave a gigantic hole in the industry‚” he added.

A culpable homicide investigation is currently underway after an Izuzu van collied into Mafela’s Ford Figo on the M1 North in Johannesburg at around 10pm on Saturday night. Mafela was declared dead on scene by paramedics.

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