Popular South African actor Joe Mafela died on Saturday night in a car crash in Johannesburg. The Johannesburg Metro Police Department confirmed his death and said a charge of culpable homicide is being investigated; this is standard in a traffic death.
JMPD spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Mafela had been driving his Ford Figo on the M1 north, just past Oxford Road, shortly before 10pm on Saturday night. His vehicle and an Isuzu double cab, which was travelling in the same direction, collided.
“The driver of the Ford Figo was Joe Mafela and was declared dead on the scene. The driver of the double cab was not injured,” said Minnaar.
“The cause of the accident will be investigated and there will be a charge of culpable homicide investigated.”
Minnaar said there was “no indication” that either driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but that this would be investigated. The drivers were the sole occupants of the vehicles.
Born in Sibasa‚ Limpopo‚ and raised in Kliptown and Tshiawelo‚ Soweto‚ Mafela began his career in 1965 when he had his acting debut in the film “Real News” in which he played an editor. In 1974 he starred in South Africa’s first black feature film‚ “Udeliwe”, which gained him a new following among movie-goers.
During the 1980s, his television career blossomed with “Sgudi ‘Snaysi”.
He won numerous awards, including a Loerie for his advertising work and an SA Film and Television award (SAFTA) for best actor in a comedy. He also received an Emmy nomination.
In recent times‚ he acted in Generations: The Legacy. About his sustained success‚ Mafela once said in an interview that acting was never about fame and money.
“It has been about passion. That is why some of us are still here 50 years on.”
TV SA listed his credits as including television productions and movies, including the films “Zulu”, “Tokoloshe”, “Shout at the Devil”, “Game for Vultures”, “Escape from Angola”, “Freedom Fighters”, “Red Scorpion” and “Tigers Don’t Cry”. He produced musicals and received a Duka Duka Award for services to the television industry and a Naledi Theatre Management Lifetime Achievement Award.
Tributes pour in for veteran actor Joe Mafela
In the wake of his death friends‚ colleagues and fans have shared fond memories of the legendary actor.
Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa wrote: “We are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of the passing of legendary Actor‚ Director & Musician ubaba Joe Mafela”.
“My heart is shattered at the passing of uBab’ Joe Mafela. I’m broken I can’t even type,” Minenhle Dlamini.
“Would this new generation understand what the song “Shosholoza” by the late Ntate Joe Mafela did to us fam? Such unity in diversity,” Lerato Ramolahloane.
“A very sad day indeed. He made a difference in many ways to our lives during difficult times,” KB Molopyane.
“RIP Joe Mafela. The original funny guy. You gave us a show that brought us so much laughter in our homes. Thank you,” Sane Sbusisiwe Khuluse.
South Africa’s political parties have paid tribute to the award-winning veteran actor.
The ANC said Mafela had been a pioneer in the entertainment industry.
“Joe Mafela was [also] an internationally acclaimed songwriter,” the ANC said.
“His title track‚ Shebeleza‚ was used as a theme song for the 1996 Africa Cup of Nations‚ in which South Africa were crowned champions.”
The DA said Mafela’s legacy would live on in the hearts of South Africans forever.
“A constant feature during our childhoods‚ through his work in television‚ theatre‚ film and music‚ Joe has made us cry‚ made us laugh and made us think,” the DA said.
“He was a celebrated entertainer‚ who was awarded the Theatre Management of South Africa Lifetime Achievement Award at the Naledi Theatre Awards and became the first black person to be awarded a Grand Prix at the Loerie Awards. Joe was a stalwart of the South African entertainment industry‚ and we will never see the likes of him again‚” the party said.
The Economic Freedom Fighters praised the “strides taken by Mafela to uplift and create a solid identity for black people in the entertainment industry when it was not fashionable to do so”.
“We celebrate his resilience and dedication to embodying and narrating the stories of black people in a world that always silences or distorts them‚” the EFF said.
Mafela and family
His niece Milicent Mulalu says while Mafela took his craft very seriously, he always made time for family.
“If there’s anything that anybody can take or learn from him is that whatever you do, you do with dedication. He was a public person even with that, he gave a lot of time to family.”
She says the family would like to celebrate his life.
“He went with his wife on a boat cruise last week, so he was away from Monday until Friday and then he comes and he gets an accident, and that’s it. I think at the moment; we feel we need to deal with the pain but celebrate his life at the same time.”
Mafela’s funeral arrangements have still to be finalised.
Author: Staff Writer