It was a final curtain call for legendary stage and TV actor Sandy Mokwena as family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Grace Bible Church in Soweto on Friday to bid him farewell.
Mokwena died on Wednesday night at the age of 68 after an illness.
Speaking at the funeral service, his daughter, Carol Mokwena, said his father was in extreme pain before he died.
“Papa was in so much pain. I wish I could say he shouldn’t have left us, but it was time. Papa was in pain and couldn’t take it anymore. It was time for him to leave.”
Carol called all her siblings, Keabetswe, Palesa and Lebo, to the podium, saying they had all played a part in caring for their father in his final days.
“All of us played a part in Papa’s life. It was a very difficult sickness. It was a sickness that sometimes we wouldn’t know what to do,” she said.
“When I couldn’t move on, or couldn’t carry him somewhere, Lebo carried him somewhere. Lebo and Keabatswe also played a part in Papa’s life and taking care of him.”
Cast members of popular TV soapie Scandal, where Mokwena was known as Bra Eddie, described him as a giant who loved his work and even in his last days, pushed himself to continue doing what he loved the most.
“Bra Eddie felt very strong, he insisted to come to work … Sandy wanted us to care for him for the last time … He always said ‘it’s not about us or you, it’s about the show, the show is the star’,” said actress Grace Mahlaba.
Addressing the family, she said: “To the Mokwena family, I thank you for borrowing, to give us the opportunity to spend time with Sandy.”
Actor Max Papo who is also a poet, read a poem he had composed on behalf of Mokwena, whom he had met in 1993.
“Bra Sandy, send me to the world, let me tell the world that artists are falling way by the way side. Let me tell the world that our industry, that we look out for ourselves and one another, for we are on our own. Bra Sandy send me to this vicious world of the arts and let me tell my people, your people to take great care of themselves,” read the poem.
Papo also paid tribute to some of the fallen legends in the arts industry, including jazz singer Hugh Masekela who died two weeks ago, and singer and producer Robbie Malinga who died in December.
Another veteran actor, David Phetoe of Generations fame, died on Thursday at the age of 85. He was in the original cast as Paul Moroka.
Towards the end of the service, members of Mokwena’s cast took turns standing around his casket, each saying their goodbyes as gospel singers led mourners in songs of praise and worship.
Mokwena’s widow Grace appeared composed through the entire service, sporting a black hat, glasses, a black and white top with a matching black skirt. She sat quietly with family members.
Mourners were told that Grace could not speak as she was overcome with emotion.
A family member read out a letter she had penned for her late husband.
In it, she reminisced about how she first saw Bra Sandy in the queue at their school tuck shop.
“You were my king. Thank you for allowing me to be me‚ and forgive me for not being a fan. For me you were a husband and a father.”
She thanked him for giving her a great family life and being there for them.
“Thank you for the most amazing children‚ they have their faults, but who doesn’t? I cannot say goodbye my love‚ rest in peace, my love.”
– African News Agency (ANA)