President Hage Geingob yesterday paid tribute to departed veteran goalkeeper-cum-football administrator Japhet Hellao, who died in Windhoek from Covid-19 related complications on Saturday at the age of 69.
In his message of condolences to the bereaved family, Geingob said Namibia has lost a great man of substance and someone who strived for the betterment of all Namibians. The Namibian head of state said the renowned Katutura businessman played a crucial role in the development of football within local communities, and used sport to positively impact society.
“I have learned with sadness about the passing of a friend and strong supporter of Swapo, comrade Japhet Hellao. Japhet would bring food and gifts to our residence and would never ask to enter the house to see us. We would occasionally go to his place in Katutura, Soweto to enjoy the good food he used to prepare, and we would crack jokes.
“Indeed, his passing is saddening for us as we had hoped that he would recover from this dreadful disease. During this difficult period of bereavement and grief, may the Almighty guide you to find solace in the scripture of Psalm 34:18 – “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit,” said Geingob.
“On behalf of the people and the government of the Republic of Namibia, I would like to extend condolences to aunty Welinda, the children and the entire family.”
Popularly known as ‘Bump Jive’ in local football circles during his heyday, the late Hellao was widely regarded as one of Namibia’s finest goalkeepers of the 70s and 80s, and will equally be remembered as a stalwart of Katutura giants, Orlando Pirates and the Augustineum Secondary School football team.
Born Japhet Shapama
//Gowaseb Hellao in 1952 at the coastal town of Swakopmund, he was instrumental in the success of the South West Africa Blacks Invitational Eleven, which won the 1974 Inter Provincial Impala Cup in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Hellao, who was a renowned businessman and trusted community leader in the Katutura residential area, also enjoyed stints with football clubs such as Blue Boys, Explorer Eleven, Atlanta Chiefs and Swallows before hanging up his boots.
After winding up his illustrious goalkeeping career, Hellao took over as team manager for Katutura club Sorento Bucs, and guided them to the Castle Classic Cup success in 1991, amongst many other local top competitions.