Welcome to the Mpumalanga Provincial Government

Remarks by Premier Thabang Makwetla at the Funeral of Former SAFA vice President Mr Reuben Mahlalela

10 January 2009

Programme Director,
The Mahlalela family including the late Reuben Mahlalela’s wives and children
Honourable MEC’s and representatives of the Mpumalanga provincial administration
Representatives of the football fraternity, including the LOC, SAFA and local football and 2010 FIFA World Cup structures in the province
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

We are gathered here today to pay our final respects to a son of Mpumalanga, Reuben Mahlalela, who passed on, doing what he loved most. Reuben loved soccer and he also adored the development of our young children into this sport. He spent most of his professional life dedicated to assisting with ensuring that facilities were made available for those who had an interest in playing soccer, to do so.

He will be mostly remembered for the selflessness he showed in representing this province at the highest level of soccer administration in this country. We will also never forget the crucial role that he played in ensuring that this province will take part in the South African, rather, in the African experience of the greatest soccer showpiece that the world has come to know and appreciate, the 2010 FIFA Soccer World CupTM for it is through his valiant efforts that we, in Mpumalanga, will get to watch some of the games.

 To the family, close friends and fellow Soccer administrators of Reuben, I want to express to you my sincere sympathy over his passing, and to offer my most profound gratitude for his service both to the province and to the country.  However, expressing gratitude alone will never be sufficient to clearly articulate the intense admiration that we in Mpumalanga have for the exemplary and humble manner with which Reuben rendered his service. It is indeed an honour for me to be part of this gathering today as we say farewell to him.

 We were lucky to have known Reuben and to have had him in our lives. He lived a very fulfilling life passionately involved with soccer administration. While a private, often quiet person, he was also very friendly and open-minded, and had a great sense of humour. It is very difficult to effectively summarise the scope of what he did. I do not think that we have the whole day!

Reuben will always be remembered as a hero for the manner in which he struggled for the soccer loving fraternity. His status as a hero is entrenched and no one can take it away. You don’t give a man the status of a hero. All you can do is recognize it. It is his. If we fail to dedicate ourselves to the ideals that Reuben strove for will be a betrayal of him and his legacy.

His passion for intellectual freedom and independence was a defining characteristic that was expressed both loudly and quietly at various times in his life, but always present. His determination to learn from others while not letting anyone do his thinking for him was and is a profound attribute that we all can do with in our lives.  

To the Mahlalela family, I know that nothing we can say can be enough to comfort you and ease the pain of your loss but let me share with you the words of the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle, when he says:

“The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one   heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.” 

May his departed soul rest in peace! 

I thank you! 

Issued by: Office of the Premier, Mpumalanga Provincial Government

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