Mandla Hlatshwayo remembered as a hero
By Mpho Raphata
There is something noble and brave about a person who doesn’t think twice about helping another. People who do selfless acts of kindness in a world where the “ I” is more important , are really few and far between. Recently men have come under fire for not standing up for women, for being the perpetrators of gruesome acts and murders of woman. So when someone comes to the aide of women in distress it is worth noting. When the person loses his life in the proces, faith in society restored. The issue though is that this kind of act does not come naturally to every man.
Why actor Mandla Hlatswayo’s bravery and natural sense to protect women, even though he didn’t know them, makes him a hero. His memorial service gave a me a sense of a man who innately protects and wants to make those around him feel safe and comfortable.
Yesterday I arrived in Soweto, at an area where I grew up to find cars lined up in and outside the Protea South Multipurpose centre. The rather chilly afternoon was warmed by the melody of hymns that were coming out of the hall. Sowetans had come out to pay their respects to slain actor and DJ, Mandla Hlatshwayo.
Walking into the hall I was greeted by a priest who had just opened the memorial service and the programme director who had called for the first couple of speakers to come forward. Looking around the packed hall I saw old and young with tears rolling down their faces. A slideshow of Mandla’s life in pictures towered over his family who were seated at the front of the hall. His wife flanked by his mother and other family members was visibly shattered. I could not help by think how unfair it was that Hlatshwayo’s family had to observe his life like this.
As I looked around the venue actors, bikers and DJs were there to remember him. His boss at Jozi FM,Mpho Mhlongo, recounted the events of May 14 when he was called after 11pm and told of Mandla’s passing. He decried how good men become trash in their non-action when women are abused and killed and how Mandla Hlatshwayo was a hero who died protecting a woman.
One speaker after another, mourners heard how Mandla loved life, his wife and children, and how he loved to entertain. In between each eulogy, soundclips of Mandla’s voice were played, reminding people of energy.
At the corner of my eye I caught the owner of the Pub where he was killed. Each time someone recounted how Mandla died, Meli buried his head in his hands as if a plea to make it all go away. Not far from him was a young girl who could not contain her tears. She kept walking in and out of the venue. I later learnt that the young lady is his daughter. I could only imagine how painful it was to hear of your dad like that.
Also at the memorial service was Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula –Khoza who offered condolences to family and friends.
Johannesburg Community Development MMC Nonhlahla Sifubo also represented the city.
What really touched me was when men stood up and observed a moment in Hlatshwayo’s honour. The tears were drowned by the loud cheers, clapping hands and whistling.
When his close friends were called up to speak, many couldn’t. They were overcome with grief.
The hall came alive when actor Mpho Tsedu called for those who killed Mandla Hlatshwayo to be given the life sentence. He called on police to keep them behind bars because it will not be safe on the streets of Soweto.
His biker friends gave him an emotional send off, with a ritual that involved a tune by revving the engine and pressing the hooter simultaneously.
All the time his wife watched, sobbing uncontrollably asking him in a tribute; “what she must do now”
I walked into the hall knowing Mandla as an entertainer; I walk out of there with a different view of him. He was a son, a brother, husband, father, friend and someone who made his presence felt. Someone who really touched people’s lives, loved to laugh, and a man who protected women. A man who like, actor Thsepo Maseko said felt that “something was cooking.” A real “ Jozi Knight.”
Hlatshwayo will be laid to rest on Saturday at the Avalon cemetery.
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