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


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 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.joe launch

“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.

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 who was also one of Mafela’s closest friends in the industry recounted how happy he was on Saturday.

“He was the happiest on Saturday when we were talking. So for me I cannot believe it, but what I want everyone to know is that he was very happy when I last saw him,” she told eNCA.

Lillian added that Mafela was so excited about taking his wife on a cruise soon, and that they had deep conversations about the industry.

“What I know is strange enough. On Saturday we were speaking about politics and how we are being marginalised as actors even though actors were very active, they brought about the change we have today but we are not given the same respect,” she said.

The actress said they also discussed not being invited to the Saftas over the weekend.

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.