RESPECTED: Mary Makgatho, who died on Monday morning after complications from a fall in July.
She breathed life into everything; she had an amazing smile; the most joyous, brilliant of laughs that filled the room; and a personality that spilled over into your spirit.

This is what speakers at the memorial service of Mary Makgatho, who died on Monday morning after complications from a fall in July, said of the actress when they remembered her at the Breytenbach Theatre in Sunnyside yesterday.

The day was her birthday; the Soshanguve-born actress would have turned 53.

The mood at the service was sombre as industry giants such as Motshabi Tyelele, Molefi Monaisa, Peter Mashigo and Boikie Pholo mourned the passing of the veteran actress.

Close friend and colleague Tyelele broke out in song as she said that her late friend loved life and “was always in song”.

She said she could not bear the pain and tears started rolling down her face as she recalled the memories made with Makgatho.

She described the woman who had featured on the small screen for years, as an actress of a high calibre and was pained by her passing. “The pain is so deep now.

“She is irreplaceable as she represented all the voiceless women in the continent. She was respectful, humble and passionate and not arrogant,” Tyelele said.

She said she would miss her and told other mourners to go with an open heart to the funeral so that Makgatho could rest in peace.

Legendary director Neo Matsunyane told the mourners that he was thrown by the death, of what he described as a brilliant woman when it came to her craft. She was always professional, he said.

“It was one hell of a surprise the one thing I remember about her is the professionalism she carried and the commitment she had for her craft,” he said.

Motsunyane recalled how Makgatho always gave her all to everything that she did and remembered her during the time they worked together on an SABC2 drama series Kelebone, in 1998.

He remembered how the the actress, while on children’s show Sesame Street, was keen on learning other languages.

Makgatho was well known for roles played in Rhythm City, Duma, Ga Re Dumele and Yizo Yizo, among others.

Industry colleague Tony Kgoroge said it had been a difficult two years in the arts industry as they lost people they still needed within the industry. “It has been difficult, we have lost very prominent and very talented people,” he said.

Kgoroge remembered how, when he was first elected chairperson of the Creative and Cultural Industries Federation of South Africa, Makgatho was happy for him and said he should be head strong.

“She was happy I was given the role and said exactly this: ‘Stay there because you understand the industry’,” he said.

Family representative Lazarus Moloi said her memory would live in their hearts and they were proud of the person she was.

Makgatho was not married and had no children, and yesterday her siblings were at the service to remember her.

Moloi told mourners that she would be buried in Soshanguve on Sunday.