A heart­felt trib­ute to Pali Le­hohla, an old pal

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT -

IN THE many times that we have in­ter­acted, there has al­ways been one thing that stood out.

It is like “that thing”, in the words of one Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, that you have.

I re­mem­ber meet­ing you for the first time on board an SAA flight to New York many years ago. It was an un­likely chance meet­ing where you needed an adapter to charge your lap­top while you worked.

We then spoke after­wards about what you did and what I did, when I was not work­ing on board.

Sub­se­quent to that, we met again, a few months later, again en route to JFK. That time, our din­ner meet­ing ma­te­ri­alised.

We walked to a Turk­ish restau­rant in the chill of the city and en­joyed a hearty meal. You picked my mind and in­ter­ro­gated my thoughts. Lit­tle did I know that was like an in­ter­view.

A few days later, on your re­turn to your of­fice, we met with the team you had put to­gether. What I did not men­tion to you was that on that day, I had an in­ter­view set up in Rand­burg at 2pm. Our meet­ing started at 8am sharp. In my mind, we would have been done by the lat­est 1pm, and I would then rush to my in­ter­view for a Sports Pre­sen­ter job for Su­perS­port.

By 5pm, I was still in your of­fice. Need­less to say, my prospects of be­ing on tele­vi­sion were crushed by the en­gulf­ing en­ergy that was present. There was so much in­tel­lec­tual pos­si­bil­ity. I was hooked! And that was the start of my jour­ney with Stats SA (al­beit a short, but ful­fill­ing one).

“That thing”, I re­ferred to ear­lier, gave me a nat­u­ral boost to do bet­ter. I knew that medi­ocrity could never be as­so­ci­ated with you. Clear in your thoughts, once you had given direc­tion, you ex­pected re­sults.

I re­mem­ber that one day we had a meet­ing and we asked for your opin­ion about our project. Your re­sponse was break­ing, yet em­pow­er­ing at the same time. You said: “I don’t know, you must tell me!”

I knew then that I had to come with so­lu­tions, and not bring ques­tions. One of the many lessons I learnt, qui­etly watch­ing.

While work­ing in your of­fice, I got to meet “Chief”, Mr Risenga Maluleke. What you wrote about him in the Busi­ness Re­port dated October 24, 2017 warmed my heart and brought back fond mem­o­ries. What stood out for me in the ar­ti­cle (apart from the in­tel­lec­tual mass), was that he was no “pushover”. The level of re­spect he com­manded was ap­par­ent, as one walked past his of­fice.

I can­not think of a more de­serv­ing DDG to suc­ceed you. I know with­out doubt that he will do you proud.

Ntate, what you have done for Stats SA, and the coun­try at large, is beyond words (I thought long and hard about what word would best de­scribe what you have done, and ev­ery time I thought of a word, it was not suf­fi­cient).

I hope my de­scrip­tion will do. In so say­ing, I would like to thank you. I was in your space for about two years, so I can only imag­ine what wealth of knowl­edge you have im­parted to the team. I thank you for the op­por­tu­nity and the ex­po­sure you af­forded me. Work­ing for Stats SA was a high­light of my ca­reer, be­cause I met a great man in you.

I would like to wish you well in what­ever turn your life will take. I am cer­tain you will have a well de­served rest now and then.

Please know that you have in­flu­enced me to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in what­ever I choose to do. I wish to meet with you again, and again, so I can draw in­spi­ra­tion from you and learn what uni­ver­si­ties can­not teach.

“That thing” in my mind is power, in­tel­lect, in­spi­ra­tion, knowl­edge, vi­sion, smart­ness, and a hair style of note!

I wish to hear from you some­time in the near fu­ture. I wish you well.

Masilo Mat­seke works for South African Air­ways (SAA) and has had in­ter­ac­tions with Statis­ti­cian-Gen­eral Pali Le­hohla, whose term af­ter 17 years of­fi­cially ends this week.


Out­go­ing Statis­ti­cian Gen­eral Dr Pali Le­hohla duirng a visit to the Busi­ness Re­port of­fices last week.

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