30 March 2017

Joe Mafela laid to rest

Legendary actor and comedian Joe "S'dumo" Mafela was laid to his final place of rest on Wednesday at Westpark cemetery in Johannesburg next to Kwaito legend Mduduzi "Mandoza" Tshabalala, who died last year.

He was also laid to rest on the same day as struggle stalwart Ahmed Kathrada, both legends in their own rights.

The funeral service took place at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto campus. The TshiVenda culture was presented beautifully in honour of the fallen star. Women lay on the ground around the casket as part of TshiVenda customs and others were performing traditional dance called 'tshikona'.

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa spoke beautifully saying as an actor, Mafela demonstrated that black lives mattered through his craft.

"He demonstrated that black lives matter by asserting characters with powerful personalities, he fought a system that had sought to belittle and denigrate black lives. Mafela laid down the foundation for black actors to assert themselves and make a mark in the industry," Mthethwa said.

Actress Thembi Mtshali-Jones who worked with Mafela in the 1980s popular sitcom "Sgudi Snaysi" described him as a mentor.

Mtshali said when they did "Sgudi Snaysi", she was young and it was her first TV job, S'dumo was already famous but never let that get to his head. Instead he educated her about the struggles of the industry.

"He would pull me down when I became famous so that it didn't go to my head. He told me that you can be famous today and tomorrow you don't have a job," Mtshali said.

"Joe took me under his wing. He has been a pillar… and I will miss him," she added.

Many people were given a chance to pay tribute during the ceremony, including family, relatives, friends and neighbours. All described him as a humble and loving soul who would always go out of his way to help others.

He died at the age of 74 due to a car accident.

Thulile Gama