'He said he was happy to go back home': 5 powerful moments from Bob Mabena's memorial

14 August 2020 - 07:16 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Touching tributes to radio veteran Bob Mabena were delivered by friends and family at his memorial service in Joburg on Thursday.
Touching tributes to radio veteran Bob Mabena were delivered by friends and family at his memorial service in Joburg on Thursday.
Image: Gallo Images/ Media 24

Family and friends of Bob Mabena gathered on Thursday afternoon to share fond memories of the legendary broadcaster.

Here are five powerful moments from the memorial service:

Melanie Bala: long-time friend and colleague 

Melanie shared funny moments between her and Bob. She said people admired him and that he had a way with people.

She shared how a fan once grabbed Bob's favourite cap off his head during an event in Nelspruit and how he ran into the crowd to get it back.

She said Bob protected her from a stalker when she was starting out at the SABC.

“He made it his responsibility, every week, after the show to make sure that I got home safely - whether that meant if he had the time, he would give me the lift himself to make sure I got home,” she said.

“If he didn't, he would make sure that somebody took responsibility to ensure that I got home, and he would check on me as well.”

Dr Tiny Mhinga: family doctor and friend

Dr Mhinga saw Bob for the last time last week and was confident he would return to work on Tuesday. However things changed on Monday, when he received a call from Power 98.7 boss Given Mkhari, who told him Bob's condition had deteriorated.

He said staff at the hospital could not explain what happened as Bob had been in good spirits when he left.

Mhinga said staff told him when Bob's family came to fetch him, "his son rushed to him and he picked him up”.

He was told by the specialist who treated Bob that he had two religious books with him, which he read and he repeatedly said, "I'm happy to go back home."

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Winston Maimane: friend

An emotional Winston said Bob often told his friends about the kind of send-off he wanted.

“We've been blessed enough that given the challenges that we all have to operate under, we have secured everything that we needed so that Bob can have precisely the kind of send-off that, for some weird reason, he told most of us [about].

“As we were sitting on Tuesday trying to figure out everything, it very quickly became clear what needed to happen because he has conversations with us respectively and privately.”

Holding back tears, Winston said: “I'm not going to fall apart because I cannot afford to. I can't replace him. I'll never be able to replace him for anybody, but I'm going to take care of you. Me and my kids will not cut bread in that house if I know that you can't do the same thing.”

Clementine Mabena: daughter 

“They say every soul that is due to be born picks its parents. And in all honesty, my siblings and I, we won the jackpot - goldmine of note.”

These were opening remarks by Bob's eldest daughter Sihle, who said her father showered all children with love.

“The most effortlessly cool man anyone has ever met. He used to say 'come home so I can smother you with love' - and he did. He did to everyone of us.

“I want to be greedy and say I wish I had more time, but he gave me the best of himself and did the same with my siblings.”

Donald Motlaung: pastor 

The pastor described Bob as a man of deep faith and who cared about those about him.

“People who live a life of great impact are people who leverage their power for the benefit of others - people who use their influence for the benefit of others,” he said.

He added that Bob's life and legacy resembled that of Jesus Christ: “A great life is not life where you get everything for yourself; a great life is a life where you get everything for yourself so that you can give to others.”


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