A Buccaneer to the very last day

Meshack Motloung

Meshack Motloung

Former Orlando Pirates chairman John Mabaso will miss his last game tomorrow when he will be laid to rest at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

Mabaso, of Orlando West in Soweto, died last Thursday at Daxina Clinic in Lenasia after a long illness.

He was an avid sportsman and was also involved in politics, although soccer was his first love.

Years ago, Mabaso was arrested in a case of mistaken identity when security branch police mistook him for the late ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu, because they both lived in Orlando West and drove the same model cars.

During Pirates' turbulent and faction-ridden years, he was almost killed in 1986 when he was shot at and left for dead by his assailants.

He survived and continued to lead the Buccaneers. And because of his conviction, he said it loud and clear that nobody would make him part company with Pirates, except God.

As Pirates chairman, he had running battles with supporters who were fighting for the position of chairman of the club.

At one stage they even went to court to contest the team with the other Pirates faction.

Mabaso was born in Orlando East on September 3 1932. His family relocated to Orlando West in 1945.

He attended Selope Thema Higher Primary School and later matriculated at Adams College in KwaZulu-Natal.

He qualified as a teacher and taught at Musi High in Pimville, which was the only black government school in Soweto at the time.

He was always on the move and soon left teaching to become the school board's secretary in the southwestern region.

He started working for Halfbag Mullner Printing company in 1970 and married the following year.

Mabaso is survived by his wife, four children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

His funeral service will be held at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Dube, Soweto, next to the YMCA from 9am.

The cortege will leave for the cemetery at 11.30am.