ACTOR, writer, producer, director, singer and businessman Joe Mafela died at the age of 75 on Saturday.
According to Metro police spokesperson Edna Mamonyane, Mafela died following a car accident. His nephew Anthony Mafela broke the news of his uncle’s tragic passing on Twitter on Sunday.
Mafela died after being involved in a collision on the M1 North in Johannesburg on Saturday night. A culpable homicide investigation is underway.
Speaking to TshisaLIVE outside Mafela’s house in Kew‚ his niece Millicent ‘Milly’ Mulelu said the entire family was in shock.
“The family is still in deep shock at the death. It was unexpected and we thought that we would at least have him around for a little while longer‚“ she said.
Millicent explained that when they received the phone call in the early hours of Sunday morning, it felt like a dream.
“Joe’s side of the car was untouched in the accident so for us to then find out that he had died was a massive shock‚ but we are a praying family and we have been praying for strength and understanding in the hours since the accident‚“ she added.
Millicent spoke fondly of her uncle‚ who she will remember as the person‚ who always made everyone laugh.
She recounted how happy Mafela was when he went on a family trip last month.
“Joe went on a boat cruise with some members of the family earlier this month and was surrounded by fans who wanted to take pictures with him. He was so happy and relaxed and we did not doubt for a second that he was in a good space.”
Millicent added that as a family they knew he was loved by the entire nation and was grateful for the love the country showed him.
“We want the nation to know that he worked hard for them and thank them for the love they have given him. We understood that we shared him with the nation and we are grateful to them for embracing him.”
Mafela’s funeral details are yet to be finalised.
Mafela was born in 1942 in Sibasa, Transvaal, and was brought up in Kliptown and White City Jabavu, in Soweto, near Johannesburg.
He started acting in movies at the age of 22, playing the role of an editor in the movie, Real News.
Mafela went on to join the South African film company SA Films and worked as producer, director and film actor for 20 years.
He also managed the multi-ethnic dance troupes Mzumba, Sangoma, and the Gold Reef Dancers, which performed in feature films, theatres and hotels.
The actor co-starred in the first all-black movie made in South Africa, as Peter Pleasure in Udeliwe in 1974. And went on to work with director Peter R Hunt in the 1976 film, Shout at the Devil.
In 1986 he was cast as the unemployed lodger S’dumo in the Zulu language comedy series Sgudi ‘Snaysi, which ran for 78 episodes on SABC.
Mafela co-owned the production company, Penguin Films where he worked as Creative Producer
Mafela conceptualised and starred in early Chicken Licken TV ads, and authored the company’s “It’s good, good, good, it’s good it’s nice” jingle during the making the commercial in 1986.
In 1996, Gallo Records released the album Shebeleza Felas, with the popular hit Shebeleza (Okongo Mame). It was a huge success, and Shebeleza was a theme song during the Africa Cup of Nations in 1996. He went on to record and released several other Zulu language albums.