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Tributes pour in for football giant Japhet Hellao

2021-05-31  Otniel Hembapu

Tributes pour in for football giant Japhet Hellao
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Tributes poured in for former Orlando Pirates Football Club veteran goalkeeper and well-known Katutura businessman Japhet Hellao, who died on Saturday, aged 69, following a long battle with Covid-19. 

Popularly known as “Bump Jive” in local football circles during his heyday, the late Hellao will be remembered 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 High 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 gloves. 

After winding up his illustrious goalkeeping career, Hellao took over as team manager for exciting Katutura outfit Sorento Bucs, and guided them to the 1991 Castle Classic Cup, amongst many other local top competitions.

Over the weekend, many pundits described him as one of the pioneers of effective governance in local football following Namibia’s independence in 1990, as he continued to share his experience and business intellect to help shape the administration of local clubs during the 90s.

The late Hellao was also the first team manager of the Brave Warriors in the 90s, and was among the first football administrators to propose and enforce that local clubs start remunerating their players when they win honours.

Among the first to pay tribute to Hellao was renowned local football pundit Isack Hamata, who described the late “Bump Jive” as a man who had the best interest of local football at heart, adding he was always willing to uplift the lives of fellow Namibians.

“The old man made his mark in Namibian football – from being an outstanding goalkeeper for Pirates and establishing his own team, Sorento Bucs, which was known as a giant killer in the mid to late 80s. I was unfortunate not to have seen him as a player but I experienced his managerial prowess. His charisma made Sorento Bucs quite the brand.” 

“He was also an astute businessman, owning Miami Service in Soweto and the then Guest House club next to the Katutura Police station. He was always willing to support other clubs and struggling individuals. During my time at African Blizzards, he invited club chairman Salomo Naukushu and myself to his office at Miami Service to discuss a potential sponsorship deal. When we arrived there, thugs had just broken into his office and took a big amount of money, which was due to be banked the following morning. He, nevertheless, committed to help us in different ways. His heart was just too open for others,” remembered Hamata.

Also paying tribute to the departed Hellao yesterday was director general of the National Planning Commission Obeth Kandjoze, who took to Twitter to share his condolences with the family and friends of the late Hellao, saying: “It didn’t matter the ups and downs you may have had, as you [Hellao] would say…what mattered was to keep finding the best way out of those setbacks and then work hard. A humble, respectful people’s giant. Go well Tate J Hellao. Those from the “kasie” will never forget.” 

Namibia’s ambassador to China Elia George Kaiyamo yesterday also took to social media to voice his sadness over Hellao’s passing, saying: “Japhet was a Namibian patriot since day one and went out of his way to show and preach ‘one Namibia, one nation’”. 

“I liked his style of unity among Namibians. Some of us tried to emulate his commitment towards that unity and are still trying to this day. Let his kind soul rest in peace,” shared Kaiyamo.


Caption: Japhet jpg – 

2021-05-31  Otniel Hembapu

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