Special man of the people

Andrew Molefe

Andrew Molefe

Earlier last week someone very special to so many people died in his prime.

The call came at about nine on Tuesday evening: "Cousin Jacob 'Sonnyboy' Phake has suddenly died." He was 62.

A charismatic man of the people, he had just left his Emndeni South home to visit buddies at "Draaihoek" for a pint or two.

Less than an hour later he collapsed. Friends took him to the Jabulani Ambulance Centre, where he was certified dead on arrival.

Phake had retired in December after working for the Investment Bank in Sandton for 28 years.

From a layman's point of view he was as fit as an ox and had a zest for life that shamed men half his age.

Three weeks earlier Phake wore out dozens of people who attended the unveiling of his relatives' tombstones. He didn't just unveil one - but eight.

Ironically, a quartet of priests - one couldn't have coped - took turns officiating. Each praised Phake for the way he remembered his dead.

Each hoped his praiseworthy deeds would ensure him a longer life. Less than a month later he lay dead.

Phake was nicknamed "Special" because of his soccer skills around Soweto.

A true township klever, he was also a dandy and a consummate speaker of tsotsitaal, the soundtrack of the hip in urban black South Africa.

His children and six grandchildren survive him.

He will be buried at the Roodepoort Cemetery tomorrow. The procession will leave his Emndeni South home at 7am for the Tladi Lutheran Church.