Sat Jun 24 19:18:09 SAST 2017

'Sgudi 'Snaysi director tells of a last call to Joe Mafela

By Emmanuel Tjiya and Nelly Selepe | 2017-03-20 13:09:05.0

  • A portrait of actor, writer, producer, director and singer Joe Mafela who died in a car accident on Saturday night,Johannesburg. Pic Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

  • Paul Mafela and Patrick Shai at home of actor, writer, producer, director and singer Joe Mafela who died in a car accident on Saturday night,Jonnesburg. Pic Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

  • Israel Matseke -Zulu at home of actor, writer, producer, director and singer Joe Mafela who died in a car accident on Saturday night,Johannesburg. Pic Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

  • Israel Matseke- Zulu at Mafela's house in Kew actor, writer, producer, director and singer Joe Mafela who died in a car accident on Saturday night,Johannesburg. Pic Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

  • Family members at home of actor, writer, producer, director and singer Joe Mafela who died in a car accident on Saturday night,Johannesburg. Pic Veli Nhlapo/Sowetan

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Penguin Films were in the early stages of developing a new comedy role for Joe Mafela.

The production company brought us shows such as Khululeka, 'Sgudi 'Snaysi and Going Up, with Mafela in the lead.

Yesterday, Roberta Durrant, creative director at Penguin Films, said she spoke to Mafela on Saturday afternoon over the phone to brief him on the idea.

"He was very upbeat, happy and strong. He was in good spirits," Durrant said.

"We were in communication with him about a new sitcom that we still have to pitch, it's not a reality yet so I can't talk about it at length because it hasn't been commissioned.

"There was a nice character for him in the sitcom to play and that's why I was telling him about it. It's not something that he has been involved with on a creative level."

Mafela, 75, died in a car accident on Saturday night.

Durrant sent her condolences to Mafela's wife and his family. She added that she was in close contact with his son, Joe Mafela Junior.

She said she had fond memories of a trip they took together to Disney World in the US years ago.

"We had parked a car in a parking garage, so when we came out we realised that all the cars were the same and we couldn't find our car. We were walking up and down. Joe was screaming 'we are parked between a rabbit and a monkey', because the Disney parking has all these symbols. It was just hilarious," Durrant said.

She directed Mafela in 'Sgudi 'Snaysi and said the first time she saw him in 1985 she knew he was Sdumo, the lead.

After working with Mafela for over a decade on various shows, in 2002 Mafela came up with the idea of TV show Stokvel and got involved in script development.

He was a non-executive shareholder at Penguin Films at the time of his death.

According to an eye witness, Metro police found Mafela alive after the crash and he was able to respond to questions.

But a few moments later he passed on. Paramedics confirmed he was dead when they arrived.

The accident happened on the M1 North after the Oxford offramp at about 9.45pm. It was believed Mafela was returning home to Kew.

When paramedics arrived on the scene, Mafela was unconscious. Paramedics then tried to resuscitate him but he was declared dead on the scene.

JMPD spokewoman Edna Mamonyane could not confirm whether his death was the direct result of the accident.

"The investigation will reveal the actual cause of his death. But what we can say is that there were no visible injuries that could be seen on Mr Mafela's body."

Mafela's death shocks family and friends

Legendary actor Joe Mafela's family said they were traumatised and shocked by the news of his death yesterday.

"The family is not holding on very well because he was not sick. When the person was not sick you do not expect to get news that he has passed [away]. We are still in shock," Mafela's niece Millicent Mulelu said.

He died in an accident on the M1 highway in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

His home in Kew, Johannesburg, was a hive of activity yesterday with family and friends coming in and out , cars parked on the driveway and several journalists and photographers also visited the home.

Some of the familiar faces who went to support the family were renowned actors and close friends Lillian Dube, Patrick Shai and Israel Matseke-Zulu.

Shai, who broke down while speaking about the ordeal, said he had struggled to accept that the 75-year-old Mafela was no more.

"This is the worst day of my life, Bra Joe taught me a lot of things in the industry, and he was like a father to me.

"He has been a great part of my development as an actor.

"Even when I went through difficult times in my marriage, he helped me," Shai said.

Dube also shared her heartache .

"I am saddened, at the same time I thank God for his life because he was talented.

"It's God's will so I have to accept [it].

"He is a giant and a legend. He was impeccable.

"I can never in one sentence sum up Joe," she said.

Matseke-Zulu said: "Bra Joe was a close friend, he was a great person.

"He and I come a long way. I am just here to pay my respects, may his soul rest in peace."

Funeral arrangements for Mafela, who had been in the industry for over 40 years, have not been finalised.

Tributes for Mafela

Generations: The Legacy actor Musa Ngema will miss Joe Mafela's laughter on set the most.

Ngema worked closely with Mafela on the SABC 1 show, playing his grandson, Mazwi Moroka. "Whenever we were in the make-up room and we were with him and Abigail Kubeka, they just cracked jokes ," Ngema shared. " He made me feel like I was in safe hands whenever he was around. " It was Ngema' s dream to work with the veteran actor. They had such beautiful chemistry. He loved me like his own son," he said.

Veteran actor and president of Creative Workers Union of South Africa, Mabutho "Kid" Sithole hailed Mafela as a fearless soldier in the performance art.

Generations: The Legacy creator Mfundi Vundla said he will remember Mafela for his professionalism.

"Generations in not the first time that I have worked with him. We started our careers almost at the same time. We =

- additional reporting Londiwe Dlomo, Lesley Mofokeng and Patience Bambalele.

X