SOUTH Africa has been plunged into a state of mourning following the death of veteran actor Joe “S’dumo” Mafela on Saturday night.
The award winning actor and musician was reportedly killed in a car accident on the M1 North between Oxford and Houghton Road off-ramps in Johannesburg at around 10 pm.
The busy road has been under construction since last year as part of the Johannesburg Roads Agency’s infrastructure upgrade project.
In a tweet, Mafela’s nephew, Anthony Mafela, officially confirmed his uncle’s death on behalf of the family. “Sad news.. My Uncle Joe Mafela passed on last night.”
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department had earlier confirmed that Mafela (75) perished in the accident.
Actors, politicians and ordinary people took to social media on Sunday to mourn Mafela and express their condolences to his family.
Fumani Shiluvana, who stars in the newly released Solomon Mahlangu movie, said Mafela’s passing was a tragedy and loss to the whole country including young children interested in acting.
He said many aspirant actors looked up to Mafela for inspiration despite his age.
Shiluvana said Mafela remained a household name and that most of his roles in TV dramas and adverts were adored.
He said he and many other South Africans still enjoyed Mafela’s timeless content 40 years after his acting debut.
The actor was until recently starring as Rangwane Tebogo on Generations: The Legacy.
Regardless of his old age, Generations creator Mfundi Vundla looked no further than Mafela when he hastily assembled a team to replace household names who had abandoned ship in a mass exodus over contractual disputes.
Vundla offered him the role of Rangwane Tebogo, the head of the richest Moroka family.
Born and bred at Sibasa outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo, Mafela grew up in White City-Jabavu and Kliptown, Soweto.
He made his acting debut in 1964 aged 22 when he appeared in the feature movie, Real News.
That marked the beginning of his glittering 40 year career which included acting, directing and producing.
However, it was his 1986 role in IsiZulu sitcom Sgudi Snaysi, where he played S’dumo, which cemented his place as a household name.
S’dumo was a poor and unemployed tenant who had no proper clothes and recycled tea bags.
In 1974, Mafela co-starred in the first all-black movie made in SA, as Peter Pleasure in Udeliwe.
He featured in the thriller Retribution in 2011.
Mafela was honoured with the special Duku Duku award for his services to the SA television industry.
He also scored the Theatre Management of SA Lifetime Achievement award at the Naledi Theatre Awards.
Mafela’s talent was not limited to acting.
In the run up to the 1996 African Cup of Nations hosted by South Africa, he produced a popular song called “Shebeleza” which rallied local soccer fans behind Bafana Bafana.
He also managed multi-ethnic dance groups Mzumba, Sangoma, and the Gold Reef Dancers and had a short stint in the advertising industry as a creative director for a communications firm.