Sandisiwe Mbhele

By Sandisiwe Mbhele

UX Content Writer

Patrick Shai memorial: ‘Heaviness of others pain killed him, not social media’

A speaker during late veteran actor Patrick Shai's memorial service said his activism work in gender-based violence organisation weighed heavy on him.

The memorial service of Patrick Molefe Shai was held at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg on Thursday from midday with strings of people lining up to celebrate and honour the veteran actor’s life.

Shai died last Saturday morning at his Soweto home at the age of 66. Shai has appeared on shows such as Soul City, Generations, Bophelo ke Semphekgo, 7de Laan and The River.

Friends and family were expecting around 200 people in the Market Theatre, however, the venue quickly filled up.

Familiar faces in attendance included Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa, radio host Penny Lebyane, who was the programme director for the service, actors from Generations and Mmasechaba Shai, Patrick Shai’s wife.

Solly Shai, the youngest brother of Patrick said his brother was a God-fearing man and this showed throughout the service with gospel musicians performing throughout. Solly praised Patrick’s wife for making “him a good man, you were always behind him”. He added that Patrick loved his craft for acting as he changed the background of their family.

Shai’s legacy as a gender-based violence activist

The service did not shy away from talking about Shai’s past as a perpetrator, admitting to abusing his wife and later becoming an activist against gender-based violence.

A few non-profit organisation representatives called him a ridicule thinker, saying he would be remembered for his accountability, transparency, repentance and resilience.

Bra Thami, a representative from Khuluma Ndoda, a social media movement that helps men talk about abuse and rehabilitate perpetrators said they will continue the narratives of GBV for years to come, led by Shai’s legacy.

Thami said the country has deep issues in terms of GBV and they have to continue the conversation.

The Khuluma Ndoda representative seemed to have confirmed Shai had passed away from suicide and that it was his decision, adding it had nothing to do with social media. Recalling one conversation he had with Shai, Thami said: “No matter how dejected or rejected Shai was, he would say, ‘If I don’t see the sign that doesn’t say game over, I will continue… I will solider on.’ ”

Bra Thami said the heaviness of counselling people who were in pain, abusers, murderers, and those who had been abused is what took his life.

“He could not face the people he was consulting with,” adding that they would often cry to the stories they heard after GBV round table talks or when they were out visiting communities.

Other speakers and actors remembered the award-winning actor’s sense of humour as a selfless human being and remorseful.

Mmasechaba and Patrick Shai

His wife, Mmasechaba called on people to start dealing with their issues, saying that Shai’s past shouldn’t taint his legacy and that his loss is very “deep” on her.

“He loved my kids with all his heart. He was a father first, he was a husband a caretaker… We were not perfect and he was not perfect. Being on TV doesn’t make you perfect…

“I used to be a victim by this man, I stopped living a life of being a victim… we need to fight this, I don’t want to be looked at like a victim,” she said.

Mmasechaba, an academic, said when Patrick started talking to the public about his abusive ways, it opened old wounds for the family and angered their kids. She says society judged her for staying and their kids, “in spite of who their father was.”

The couple had been together for decades, since Mmmaschaba was 17-years-old. She told her kids not to allow people to shame them or to be defined by social media about what people thought about their father.

Mthethwa called Shai a legend and a formidable campaigner for gender equality. He talked about the steps the department is taking to tackle GBV, such as starting a wellness program called Silapha led by actors and helping the boy child.

Watch Patrick Shai’s memorial service

The funeral service will take place on 29 January. Details of the venue or time have not been shared yet.

After social media reports of his death over the weekend, his family confirmed the news of his death in a statement.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of the veteran actor Ntate Patrick Shai. He passed away this morning (22 January 2022). We sincerely ask you to give the family time to process this painful loss,” read part of the statement.

News of Patrick’s death came just days after he made headlines for challenging Cassper Nyovest to a boxing match.

It was reported by tabloid Sunday World that Shai had taken his own life, however, the family asked people not to speculate about his death.

Thabang Sefotho, the founder of a movement called “Tigers Do Cry”, shared what was said during his last conversation with Patrick Shai on radio station 702.

Thabang spoke to radio host Clement Manyathela and shared how the late actor confided in him about how much the backlash on social media impacted him.  

The veteran actor published a video saying he wanted to fight the rapper in a boxing match, calling Cassper a “son of a b***h” and, therefore, insulting his mother.

There was a heavy backlash against Shai, with fellow actor Hlomla Dandala calling the Twitter attacks a “public lynching.”

ALSO READ: Patrick Shai: ‘Social media character assassination is breaking me’

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