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Humorous philanthropist 'Tonkana' dies at 55

By unknown | Oct 24, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Maphamola Lebelo

Maphamola Lebelo

Oupa Lebelo's hordes of friends, family and acquaintances will not celebrate his birthday tomorrow.

Instead they will gather to bury him at the Avalon Cemetery on what would have been his 55th birthday celebration.

Tonkana, as he was affectionately known, was a snazzy dresser, philanthropist, self-styled comedian and roving socialite from Diepkloof, Soweto.

Born in Orlando East in 1953, Lebelo attended school in both Orlando and Diepkloof, where his parents had moved to.

He started working at the Carlton Hotel and later at the following places: Bauers, Willis Faber Insurance, BP South Africa and PepsiCo South Africa in the early 1990s.

When PepsiCo withdrew from SA he refused to wallow in self-pity. Instead he threw his energy into the Kerona Community Organisation.

Kerona was instrumental in turning around the lives of hundreds of Sowetans with its programmes.

Lebelo personally funded Kerona when sponsorship failed to materialise.

But it is his and Kerona's involvement with ex-prisoners that stands out.

Under his astute leadership Kerona undertook a number of initiatives aimed at rehabilitating ex-convicts.

One such initiative was to ensure that ex-offenders were armed with the necessary skills to make a living and become productive members of society on release.

Lebelo was also instrumental in negotiating and forming the Southgate taxi route.

Humour, laughter, fun and camaraderie are characteristics and traits that defined him.

Many will remember him for his infectious laughter. He could also be serious and focused.

He is survived by a son, brother, two sisters and grandchildren.

Lebelo's funeral service at Ekhaya Community Centre, Zone 4 Diepkloof, starts at 7am.

Robala ka kgotso!


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