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Speech by Elijah Mhlanga on behalf of Government Communicators at the memorial service of Mr Joe Maila at GCIS, Pretoria, 26 October 2017

Programme Director

The Maila family,

Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health

Khensani Kubayi, Minister of Communications

Onica Moloi, MEC for Sport Arts and Culture in Limpopo

Polly Boshielo, Speaker of the Limpopo Legislature

DG of Health, Malebona Precious Matsoso

Ladies and gentlemen

Colleagues in the public service and in communications.


Programme Director as a seasoned communicator yourself, you know that our job doesn’t entail making speeches. We write speeches but at a time like this when one is met with such sadness and shock at the loss of a colleague and a friend it becomes incredibly difficult not to assume this type of responsibility.

Bra Joe was most certainly one of the best among us communicators. He was the consummate professional at all times. All of us can agree that he was certainly one of the best examples in government communication circles.

He was supportive of his colleagues even in our cluster media briefings, where I was his chairperson, he would submit content and be there in person to assist in any way he could. What I observed about Maila was that he wasn’t afraid of the spotlight but he didn’t crave it either.

The turn out here today is evidence of what he meant to all of us as Government communicators. Joe will be so sorely missed in this fraternity and by me. He was my neighbour in the CBD. The Departments of Basic Education and Health share the same physical space in Struben Street.  In addition to that, if we didn’t meet in the trenches we would meet at Hope Restoration Ministries in Kempton Park on Sundays where we both attended church service.

He served this Government and Minister Motsoaledi with distinction, but aside from raising the bar in terms of public communications he also cared deeply about the health and well-being of the people of this country.

He saw the impact that not having a decent pair of school shoes has on a child, in many instances children would rather not go to school than go to school without school shoes and face humiliation at the hands of the school community. Joe saw this as an opportunity to do some good and with some other colleagues in communications launched the 1 Million school shoes campaign.  In so doing he managed to restore the dignity of so many of these children and gave them a sense of pride to walk through the school gates eager to learn whilst holding their head high.  Helping others in this way gave him a great sense of joy.

His untimely and sudden death has come as a great sense of shock to us all. It is almost unbelievable that one can work closely with someone and the next minute they are no more.

Everyone is on their own journey through this world, Bra Joe’s was cut too short too soon.

Bra Joe leaves this immortal earth with us all being better people and better communicators for having known him and for having worked with him.

He has left us with the example of his life, to be an example both professionally and socially. We need to live our speak as Joe did, we need to find solutions to problems as Joe did and we need to be better more caring members of humanity as Joe was.

To be honest also, we have a thankless job as communicators and we do not get acknowledged or recognized enough. We do not pause to encourage each other. Maybe it’s the nature of the job but platforms such the the Government Communicators Awards used to afford us the opportunity to reach the person behind the title and say we salute you for your hard work and contribution. This is an appeal to Minister Kubayi to consider returning the awards. Some of the awards could perhaps be named after people such as Ronnie Mamoepa, Joe Maila and others.

On behalf of all Government communicators I would like to convey my deepest condolences to his family as they struggle to come to terms with this loss during this difficult time, but more especially to his wife and two children who will feel this loss the most.  He told me about his son when he needed help to enrol him in a school, what I didn’t know is that I would meet his son without his father.

Those who follow Joe on Twitter would know he starts every day with a quote from the Bible. May you then find comfort in Philippians 4:7 as the Book says: And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thank you


Elijah Mhlanga – 083 580 8275 | Troy Martens – 079 899 3070

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Written By: Administrator Account
Date Posted: 10/26/2017
Number of Views: 2131

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