Award Winner 2015
OUR UNSUNG SPORTS HEROES AND HEROINES
Joseph Seshigo Matthew Latakgomo
Mr Joseph Seshigo Matthew Latakgomo, popularly known as Bra Joe, was born in January 1948 in Newclare and grew up in Wallmansthal. His family was later forced to relocate to Atteridgeville where his much enviable contribution to sports started.
The veteran sports journalist’s love for sports and in particular, soccer, was because it was an escape for poor boys and that it was affordable and offered entertainment that kept them from the streets. It also provided an opportunity for cheap travel and a guarantee for participation.
As a school boy, he played soccer, softball and tennis. He did not progress far in tennis because the attire and racquets were too expensive for a poor boy. He was the “B” Soccer Team goalkeeper while Martin Mantsha Dioke was the “A” Team goalkeeper at Hofmeyr High School in Atteridgeville which had players like Hendrik Skroef Choma, Strike Moropane, Snell Mataboge and Koos Komane.
Outside of school, he played goalkeeper for Black Hunters and Spa Sporting, which were the first clubs to play professional soccer from Atteridgeville. He also served as an official at Spa.
His other interest was in softball, where school team participation was very competitive with players like Charles Junior Motau, Charles Machaba, Fred Bodibe, Elliot Makhaya and Barney Tshabalala. He and Joe Dau, another great sports personality in Atteridgeville, established the Pretoria Jets Softball Club which was one of the most successful softball teams and revived the sport in the township.
Joe dreamt big as a student and wanted to become a writer. He had already written short stories at school and thus found it easy to break into the media as a sports writer. Before he got employed at the The World, the Editor, Lesley Sehume, used to phone him to ask for the local soccer results. Lesley Sehume was later so highly impressed by Joe’s story covering the match between Sundowns and Moroka Swallows Mbanya, he employed him immediately. Sundown’s colourful players then were Ingle Singh, King Son, Dancing Shoes Hartze and Sonnyboy Chauke. Joe went on to recruit and mentor other local budding sports reporters like Elliot Makhaya, Phil Machaba, Monk Nkomo, Norman Ngale and Alinah Dube who later graduated to other levels in journalism and became news reporters and special feature writers. This has ensured the legacy of Atteridgeville sports journalists.
Joe has covered many memorable soccer games with star players and officials who made history on the soccer fields and in soccer administration respectively. He wrote about the colourful officials like Ewert “The Lip” Nene of Kaizer Chiefs and the Soccer League’s Abdul Bhamjee. There were also historical moments in his stories about the Orlando Pirates great rescue following the banning of Coloured and Indian players from playing for Pirates; the role of Atteridgevillle and Pretoria players like Conti Kekana, who went on to captain Pirates; and those of other memorable players who kept the Pirates ship afloat such as David “Republic” Fakude, Dingaan Mokone, Msongela Mathebula, Duff Mogolola and Shuffle Mokopane. He also covered the historic “trial game” which was arranged for Atlanta Chiefs to see Kaizer Motaung in action – and which led to him being signed on by the American club. He was the journalist of choice to cover the memorable matches featuring Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows – the original Soweto derby – but also covered the two unforgettable 2 – 1 victories by Pretoria Callies over Orlando Pirates where Lucas “Masterpiece” Moripe terrorised the Pirates goalkeeper, Patson Banda. The first encounter was abandoned when Bucs fans invaded the Super Stadium after Callies had led 2 – 1.
Joe’s attention to the soccer legend, Lucas Moripe, was drawn by Elliot Makhaya, who invited him to come and see him at play at Mbolekwa Sports Ground in Atteridgeville, where he was peppering the game with his unbelievable wizardry and unmatchable magic. But Joe sadly remarked that there is no footage that captures Moripe’s magic at the SABC, because television coverage focused only on the Johannesburg clubs.
Other brilliant Atteridgeville footballers who were prominent in Joe’s stories are Seth Stopper Seopela, Bantala Matlala, Stanley Mogale, Antipas Setlhapelo who were managed by Uncle Russa Bud Mbele, including the rising stars like Ariel “Pro” Kgongoane who sadly lost his life during the 1976 unrest.
Joe also made a valuable contribution to soccer administration in communication when he served with other famous giants of sports of the likes of Super Shongwe, Dick Phiri and Bennet Mohlamme.
His 50 years of sterling work and experience in journalism since 1967 when he started his career as a Sports Reporter at The World, brought him showers of momentous accolades. He has been widely recognised for his major contribution to sports in Atteridgeville, in the country and beyond.
Joe is enormously and widely recognised for his work as a prolific sports journalist. He has held various positions in his chequered career. As a result, he has also been granted several significant awards and accolades which include the following:
1983 – Nominee for Four Outstanding Young South Africans Award; 1984 – Community Service and Achievement by Atteridgeville Chamber of Commerce; 1990 – Nieman Fellowship at Harvard; 2001 – Community Achievement Award in Communications by Atteridgeville Renaissance; 2010 – Inducted into the South African Breweries Sports Journalists Hall of Fame; and 2010 – Lifetime Achievement Award by the South African Football Association.
He has written one of the definitive books on soccer in South Africa, “Mzansi Magic: Struggle, Betrayal and Glory – A History of South African Soccer,” which he says he wrote because he found out that the biggest authority on South African soccer was an academic at a Canadian university!
The book was given the following raving reviews:
- Richard Maguire, Editorial Director of Kickoff: “Precious little has been written about South African football, especially the game that developed in the dusty fields of townships. Joe Latakgomo was there and he laces his tales with wonderful anecdotes that can only be told by someone with an insider’s knowledge. For the lover of South African soccer, this is a must; for those with a passing interest, this is a window into a world that was in danger of being forgotten.”
- Joe Tlholoe, Press Ombudsman: “Joe Latakgomo tells the gripping drama of the beautiful game as played out against the grim conflict between coloniser and colonised, oppressor and oppressed, and between the apartheid and liberation forces. It is fitting that this story is told when freedom has triumphed, and it is mirrored in soccer with South Africa hosting the 2010 FIFA World Cup.”
Joe has traversed the world in his travels as a sports journalist visiting places such as the USA, UK, Japan, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and touching home base on the continent in countries like Zimbabwe, Egypt, Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Kenya and Tanzania.
The now retired Joe has also worked as Senior Communications Advisor to Patrice Motsepe, African Rainbow Minerals and Mamelodi Sundowns, the Tshwane giants of soccer who won the PSL League Championship for 2013/14 season for an unprecedented sixth time. The Club has a huge following in Atteridgeville.
He is now retired but remains a hard-working gentle giant whose career in sports, news journalism and business includes the following:
- Communications Consulting
- Senior Advisor to the President and Board of Mamelodi Sundowns
- Public Editor for Avusa (Times Media) which includes The Sunday Times, Times, Cape Times, PE Herald and Daily Dispatch
- Chief Executive at Kapele Freight and Logistics
- Editor-In-Chief at Mafube Publishing
- Managing Member at Dikgang Media and Communications
- Manager, Strategic Relations at Engen Petroleum
- Deputy Editor at Argus Africa News Service
- Senior Assistant Editor at The Star
- Founding Editor of The Sowetan
- Senior Assistant Editor at Post and Sunday Post, World and Weekend World
- Deputy Sports Editor at The World and Weekend World.
- Convenor for the independent panel of judges at the annual SAB Sports Journalist of the Year Award.
His biggest regret is the failure of sports and business people in Atteridgeville to have resuscitated the defunct Pretoria Callies which is now dormant even though registered in private ownership.