Moss Mashishi’s Tribute to Tiego Moseneke

1st June 2023


Memorial Speech
Tiego Moseneke

The Programme Directors
The Former Deputy Chief Justice and the Moseneke Family
The Vice Chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand
The Premier of the Gauteng Province
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentleman
⁃ Tiego and I met for the first time in 1984 as undergraduate students here at Wits University. Since that beginning our friendship, comradeship and brotherhood has had many points of intersection in different spheres of life stretching for 39 years. Within the limited time I have, I was asked to cover three areas in my remarks, that is, – Tiego the lawyer, the business man, and the philanthropist.
⁃ In 1992 whilst I was Secretary General of Tennis South Africa, Tiego shared with me his vision of building a black owned corporate law firm. At the time, he already had a successful law Practice in Pretoria called Moseneke Attorneys. The Pretoria Practice, like most black owned Practises at the time, in the main did criminal work, third party claims , divorces , etc. Tiego thought the time was ripe to take a quantum leap and venture into establishing a black owned Corporate Law Firm. At the time, 30 years ago , this idea was ground breaking. Today there are quite a number such black owned Firms. At the time we were cognisant of the fact that this idea was not going to be a walk in the park as most big Corporates then were mainly lead by white executives who simply had no appetite to brief black lawyers . However Tiego was not daunted by this reality , in fact I was personally emboldened by his confidence in our capabilities to break through that ‘glass ceiling’. To cut a long story short I was sold to the idea. We then approached and recruited Merafe Ramono, Phindi Nzimande (now Baleni) , Tony Tshivase, and Lloyd Mogotsi (now Pastor Lloyd Abraham). We launched Moseneke and Partners in 1993, and we opened high end offices at the Surrey House Building in Rissik Street, Johannesburg with all the bells and whistles. In no time a number of multinational clients started giving us work, in particular Levy Strauss, Panasonic, and Whitney Houston whom we represented when she came to perform in SA. A year later the Pretoria Practice was also merged into the Firm. Notwithstanding some challenges, Moseneke and Partners grew from then onwards. There are lessons to be drawn from this experience which I cannot deal with now in the interest of time. However what was noteworthy about this venture and particularly instructive about Tiego’s disposition is that : – He always saw opportunities way ahead of the curve, and would not accept to settle for a pedestrian professional existence just because of the fear of challenging racially imposed barriers. Even though eventually all the founding Partners went on to do other things, the important point is that that vision Tiego inspired in us was achieved against all the odds. He finally left legal practise himself in the early 2000s. Now that the founding Partners of Moseneke Partners are present tonight, I think the story of the Firm as an early pathfinder in the overall transformation of the legal fraternity in our country should be written.
⁃ The story of Tiego’s entrepreneurial journey is quite similar to the story of most entrepreneurs, -it is generally a story of hard knocks in the beginning before one ultimately experiences successes . There is a saying that at University you learn how to do it, in real life you learn how not to do it : – That stuff is not in textbooks. His early ventures in mining and resources were characterised by a fair dose of trial , error, and failure. One can say he used those years to pay his school fees. During those tribulations, as though to add salt to injury, Tiego told me an anecdote ; that one day when he was at one Virgin Active Gym in Pretoria, and he was sweating with lifting some heavy weights, a huge Afrikaner bloke came across to him in glee and said, ‘ Ja jong!! Daar is nie BEE hierso… here you have to carry your own weights…!! Tiego eventually established the Encha Group , from the foundations of a successful property business , he built Encha into the significant diversified Group that it is today. He lifted his family in the process, including the extended family, and he broadly created jobs and empowerment opportunities for many other people. In his last days, he had reached a point in life where he really didn’t need to work for a living anymore, and he looked forward to spending more time helping others, contributing to the ongoing betterment of society, and doing the things that his heart desired. He had already handed the CEO role at Encha Group to Sedise. Whilst I was having an introspective conversation with him just two weeks or so before he passed on, I could discern that before me was a man who was at peace with himself and who was at a place of complete contentment.
⁃ With regard to philanthropy : Giving was second nature to Tiego. The breath of his generosity stretched widely and it included amongst others ; the Moseneke Scholarship Foundation that focussed at tertiary level and funded a number of students including some who went through this University; various school based projects, funding both school programmes and infrastructure ; various Sports Clubs and Community Projects, including the Cadets that you see amongst us tonight. Tiego took interest at an individual’s level such as on a family member or friend who needed help, or a young budding talent like the promising young golfer , Toto Thimba and he would address whatever the need was at that level. Equally he would support politically strategic national institutions such as Mistra. It is also important to note that his widow, Koketso, was an integral part of most of this outreach work, many of these projects she in fact identified herself and helped to bring them to fruition or to coordinate. Even though Tiego gave abundantly , he generally preferred to do so quietly, other than in those instances when the occasion itself was used as an inspiration to rally others to do the same.
⁃ In all the facets of life that I have experienced Tiego, from our student days here at Wits, to the law as professionals, to political activism , to entrepreneurship ,to the general joys of life, the consistent thread is that he had four characteristics that defined him: Firstly he had a phenomenal intellect, he could systematically unpack complex issues and he thrived on rigorous and informed conversations ; secondly he had great charisma and a command of language second to none, he could articulate his thoughts with the most simple and accessible language that could be understood by any ordinary listener ; thirdly he had what I describe as rigorous integrity, he simply had zero tolerance for corruption and malfeasance ; and fourthly he fundamentally cared, he was endowed with a big heart and a deep generosity of spirit.
⁃ This past Easter Weekend; exactly two weeks before Tiego transitioned, Tiego and his family hosted my family in their home in Cape Town. Our wives and children bonded intimately. Between Tiego and I, it was a long weekend of deep conversations up to early hours of the mornings about all manner of things; the state of the nation, the state of the ANC, the oncoming 40th Anniversary of the UDF, business, all spiced with copious amounts of wine, Koki’s sumptuous culinary delights, laughter, and boundless joy. On the Saturday, after a morning of golf at the Steenberg Golf Club, we watched a cliffhanger football match between Arsenal and Liverpool. Tiego and Romeo Khumalo being passionate Arsenal fans, were unfortunately left quite distressed at the end of that match. The following day we had a great jazz evening at the Blues Room.( Incidentally that is where we met Mohau for the first time who is one of the performers for tonight.) On Sunday we painfully watched Tiger withdraw from a tournament with excruciating pain. We vowed to go to the Masters next year together if Tiger recovered enough to play. I am not an Arsenal fan but after Tiego’s passing, I kept rooting for them until the end of the season, hoping they would somehow win the Premiership and put a smile on Tiego’s face even in heaven. But it was not to be. I don’t know if Tiger will make it for the Masters next year. If he does I will put a few golf enthusiasts together to go and see him and honour the promise Tiego and I made. Now on reflection, non of us at the time could have understood the full import of that intimate and heartwarming long weekend.

To the Moseneke family, you were the chosen family through which God delivered a Magical Soul to the World. We are grateful to you for sharing him with us. He left an indelible mark in all of us. He will live forever in our hearts and in our thoughts.

Farewell to the Magical Soul
I will miss him deeply.

Thank you.

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