Helepi’s death mourned

2016-04-13 06:00
RIGHT: Soccer legends carrying the coffin of Alfred Helepi are from the left, front: Trott Moloto, Jeffrey Lekgetla and Shakes Mashaba.

RIGHT: Soccer legends carrying the coffin of Alfred Helepi are from the left, front: Trott Moloto, Jeffrey Lekgetla and Shakes Mashaba.

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THE funeral of the murdered former Moroka Swallows star Alfred “Chencha” Helepi (70) was overshadowed by mixed feelings, which translated into a cry, a smile and a dance.

Emotions reflected by a smile and a dance celebrated Helepi’s well-lived life and true personality. This saw people dancing to Helepi’s favourite type of music, jazz, with a giant photo of a smiling Helepi looking on.

Emotions manifested in a cry stemmed from the common belief that the murder had robbed the community of a man of integrity, and a pioneer.

Different speakers at the memorial held on Wednesday (06/04) and at the funeral service on Sunday (10/04) lamented bitterly that the heartless killers had robbed society of a man of good morals.

Scores of mourners and family alike could not supress their devastation, brought on by the senseless killing of Helepi.

He is remembered for his pioneering spirit, which saw him successfully managing his home-based business of a tavern, from within the premises of a private property.

Thato Thekisho, member of the Free State Liquor Traders Association, said Helepi possessed good business ethics, hence the success of his business, Helepi’s Tavern, in Phahameng.

However, Helepi’s brutal murder has raised grave concern that such business owners in the township were soft targets for organised criminals who unabatedly rob and kill people for their hard-earned money.

Thekisho stressed that such business owners not only strived to make a living, but also created employment opportunities.

“The big worry is, their safety is not guaranteed,” said Thekisho.

Criminals who target such owners are killing business too.”

Paying tribute to the late Helepi, different speakers described him as a people’s person, man of great soul, integrity and respect.

Standing in front of a giant photo of a smiling Helepi, former Bloemfontein Celtic’s legend Mike “The Puma” Litsili said it was devastating for everyone to lose a man, who had lived his life well, to rampant crime.

“It is unfortunate that the worst happened to a father figure. He was a true leader. I wonder if his killers know what they had done by killing Helepi. They have deprived the nation of a valuable man, they too could have learnt a lot from him, how to shape their lives, had they not killed him. He was a pillar of strength,” Litsili said.

The multitudes of mourners and the bereaved family now have to contend with feelings of doubt as to whether justice will prevail in Helepi’s murder.

Some aggrieved mourners expressed their doubt, owing to privileges criminals seem to have over law-abiding citizens, like the victim, who was reportedly shot and killed in the privacy of his house – in the bathroom.

His armed assailants overpowered his employees, with one shooting him three times at close range.

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