Soweto residents hold vigil, make peace with death of Mandla Hlatshwayo

2017-05-17 10:20
Pimville residents gathered for a candlelight ceremony in honour of the late Mandla Hlatshwayo. (Mpho Raborife/News24)

Pimville residents gathered for a candlelight ceremony in honour of the late Mandla Hlatshwayo. (Mpho Raborife/News24)

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Johannesburg – Pain and heartbreak were etched on the faces of dozens of the family and friends of Jozi FM DJ Mandla Hlatshwayo and his friend Oupa Duma, who had gathered to pray at the place where the two men drew their last breaths.

Standing with candles in their hands, Soweto residents braved the cold in their numbers to visit the scene where the men had died two days ago after being shot dead by robbers outside their hangout spot, Meli Lounge, in Pimville.

The mood was sombre and tears trickled down the cheeks of a few faces as songs were sung and prayers said by those who knew the two men. This, they felt, was their chance to allow the souls of both men to be sent off peacefully.

Neighbours and close friends have described the former Generations actor as friendly, full of energy, and a down to earth young man.

Ouma Shumba, who was a close family friend and an avid listener to Hlatshwayo’s show on Jozi FM said when she heard news that he had passed on, she was shocked and speechless.

"I couldn’t even speak. I was hurt , even now I am still hurt because Mandla was someone I was close to."

The last time she had spoken to him was minutes before he had gone live on Friday.

"Most of the time, whenever he was about to start his show, I would call him and he would say 'Ouma, how are things in Pimville?' and I would say something like 'Today there isn’t any electricity and he would jokingly ask if I had bathed'," she said, managing a slight laugh.

She described the 40-year-old as a humble young man who was a good son and a loving, understanding person.

She had come to the pub where he died to make peace with his death and to pray that his spirit would go well, she said.

"I wanted to send him off tonight, I have made peace with it in my heart that I will never see Mandla again. I must just accept it and make peace with God that he is no longer with us."

Pimville residents hold a candlelit prayer vigil in honour of the late Mandla Hlatshwayo and Oupa Duma. (Mpho Raborife/News24)

The owner of the pub Meli Morewane, who was there on that fateful night when the two men died, said both the men had been good friends of his.

Hlatshwayo had been a resident DJ at the party venue even during his heyday as an actor on popular soapie Generations, he said.

"He was just a lovely guy, full of energy, a lovely person. He would always hang out with me when he is free, and have a drink with me. He was just a lovely person."

On the day of the shooting, Hlatshwayo had come to the pub to meet with Morewane to discuss the club owner’s upcoming birthday celebrations.

"Jozi FM sent Mandla to me to come for a meeting with me about my birthday celebrations. It was on Sunday around 22:00."

Minutes after Mandla concluded the meeting, he heard screams from two women running past the club, Morewane said.

"On his way out, the two girls came running, screaming, then Mandla went out to try and help them, because they were being robbed of their bags and cellphones.

"Mandla grabbed one guy and that’s when he got shot. It was so tragic, the other guy (Duma), one of my friends, was standing by the front door and was hit through the glass. It was tragic."

It all happened so quickly and in such a short space of time that he was still trying to wrap his head around it, he told the crowd of mourners. But seeing the residents coming to help pray for the families made him feel that the men had been given a dignified send-off, he said.

Pimville residents hold a candlelit prayer vigil in honour of the late Mandla Hlatshwayo and Oupa Duma. (Mpho Raborife/News24)

"It makes me feel much better to see such a large presence of people, it just goes to show that those of us who are still here on earth have sent Mandla and Chom Chom (as Oupa was affectionately known) off with prayers.

"I just wanted to do it for the Jozi FM family and for the families of both men. I think it will make them feel much better because people came in numbers, to pray with them and for them."

Hlatshwayo’s boss, Jozi FM CEO Mpho Mhlongo had spent the day with him and other colleagues and did not believe the news when two colleagues called to inform him later that night that Hlatshwayo had died, he said. He got into the car and drove to the scene to see for himself.

"As I arrived, I saw his car and saw other cars of staff members and I thought 'Okay, it means he’s here, I hope they’re not pulling a joke on me because they had a good time today, maybe they want to surprise me for my birthday'.

"As I came closer, I saw police cars and then it started dawning on me that this could be it. When I saw him, I was lost for words. I didn’t know what to say or do," he said.

He was also encouraged by the large turnout of residents, family and friends who had come to pray with them.

WATCH: Candlelight prayer vigil for the late Mandla Hlatshwayo

"It means that we still have a lot of people who care and love, who are dedicated to this community. It’s about time that we say enough is enough."

Sitting in the corner and complaining about the crime would not help anything if people did not stand up and do something about it, he said.

"Seeing them come out in their numbers today says to me that there are really good men and women who are concerned about these brutalities that are taking place. It’s a matter of what are we doing about it?"

Hlatshwayo was also robbed of his phone, shoes and belt on the night. Mhlongo said parents needed to play their part in calling their children to order if they were menaces.

"When a child comes home with a pair of shoes and you don’t know where they got them from, and you keep quiet, what does it say? It means you are encouraging the evil that is taking place in society. We need to fight this."

Read more on:    mandla hlatshwayo  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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