Alfred Hlophe

2009-01-14 00:00

Pietermaritzburg soccer administrator and businessman Alfred “Qokololo” Hlophe died at Edendale Hospital on Saturday at the age of 78. Qokololo’s name is well known in the city and it is synonymous with football throughout the country’s soccer fraternity. He was born on July 13, 1930 and died in hospital in what his family described as a “sudden death”.

His daughters described Qokololo as a loving person, a straight talker with a great sense of humour, a socialite and a man with a giving spirit.

Qokololo’s involvement in football stretched over three decades and he worked with the likes of Orlando Pirates boss, Dr Irvin Khoza and the late Safa vice president, Ruben Mahlalela, who died recently. He was the administrator for the National Soccer League (NSL), which is now known as the Premier Soccer League (PSL), and a member of the South African Football Association (Safa) executive committee.

Qokololo’s rise to the NSL and Safa’s boardrooms started in amateur football in Edendale where he later became the chairperson of the Edendale Football Association.

During his involvement in soccer, Qokololo successfully organised big teams in South African football such as Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs to either play some of their matches in the city or to play friendly matches against local teams.

His love for football saw him successfully fighting with the apartheid regime for the establishment of the Qokololo Stadium in Edendale. According to his friend, Hitler Mbambo, Qokololo cherished the stadium and viewed it as a legacy to the people of Edendale and Pietermaritzburg which was once known for producing outstanding soccer players.

He told The Witness last year that the news of the demolition of the stadium did not sit well with him. He strongly opposed the demolition and felt offended and undermined, claiming that he was not consulted by the Msunduzi Municipality when it was decided to demolish the stadium to make way for a shopping centre.

In 2007 Qokololo organised a prayer meeting for Pietermaritzburg-born soccer players whom he considered to be ill-disciplined. These players included Sandile Ndlovu (formerly of Maritzburg United and now a Moroka Swallows player), and Mbulelo Mabizela, the Mamelodi Sundowns defender.

Apart from being involved in soccer, Qokololo was a businessman who owned buses and taxis. He was also involved in politics. He was the chairman of the ANC in Dambuza at the height of the political violence that engulfed the city and the province. He had to flee his home in Dambuza and moved to town after he suspected that he was going to be killed.

The memorial service for Qokololo will be held at the Edendale Lay Ecumenical Centre tomorrow (Thursday) starting at 10 am. One of Qokololo’s daughters asked The Witness to write that her father is survived by “many children and many grandchildren” as they did not want to leave out any of his children when they started to count them. She said that her father is also survived by his two wives.

His funeral service will be held on Saturday at a venue still to be announced in the media.

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