PPRESIDENT of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Kirsten Nematandani, led a delegation of SAFA officials to the grave site of the association’s former vice-president of SAFA, Reuben Mahlalela, to pay tribute to him for his contribution to football in the country.
The visit took place on Saturday, 8 October 2011 just a few hours before the Bafana Bafana faced Sierra Leone in a 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
Inspired by his efforts to transform the way football was run in the country, Nematandani reached out to the Mahlalela family at graveside to remind them of his commitment and dedication to the improvement of football in the country.
“At the time of his untimely passing, Reuben worked tirelessly to restore pride to South African football, traveling the country to spread the message of change,” said Nematandani.
SAFA vice president, Dr Danny Jordaan, offered a moving tribute to Mahlalela, noting how hard he worked to ensure that his beloved Nelspruit became a World Cup venue.
“Reuben travelled with us to Swaziland and Mozambique to ensure that Nelspruit’s chances were improved through their support. If it was not for him, Nelspruit may not have succeeded to become a host city. He was therefore instrumental in Nelspruit’s success,” said Dr Jordaan.
Ms Pretty Mahlalela, Reuben’s sister, thanked the SAFA leadership for their dedication and humility in visiting the gravesite on behalf of the family. Reuben’s brother, George Mahlalela, also expressed his gratitude to the leadership for the visit.
“Reuben Mahlalela dedicated his entire life to the beautiful game and we are thankful for this gesture from the Association to recognize Reuben’s contribution and keep his memory alive,” said Mr David ‘Brains’ Zulu, an NEC Member from the province and the organizer of the trip to Komatipoort, where Reuben is buried.