Patrick Shai a ‘compassionate human rights and gender activist’: Commission

While the entertainment fraternity mourns the loss of veteran actor Patrick Shai, the Commission for Gender Equality says South Africa has lost a compassionate human rights and gender activist.

Veteran actor Patrick Shai at the age of 57. Picture: Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - While the entertainment fraternity mourns the loss of veteran actor Patrick Shai, the Commission for Gender Equality says South Africa has lost a compassionate human rights and gender activist.

The revered actor passed away on Saturday at the age of 57.

Shai who hailed from Soweto boasted an illustrious career, having starred in several hit shows for over 30 years.

He was also an advocate against gender-based violence and had been open about his history as an abuser.

The commission's Javu Baloyi explained, “Shai was a compassionate hero of our struggle against gender-based violence who would use his artistic skills to ensure the message gets across to his intended audience. Through men like Shai, we see a shift in the mindset of many men, and we will continue with the same trajectory against gender-based violence.”

Meanwhile, fans, politicians and South Africa's entertainment fraternity have been paying tribute on social media.

Shai had a career that spanned decades and became a household name after appearing on numerous television and theatre productions including Generations, Soul City, Yizo Yizo, and most recently The River.

Shai also had an extensive feature film resumé which included Cry, The Beloved Country and Critical Assignment.

While his contribution to the South African arts and entertainment industry left an indelible mark, he also used his profile to promote his activism.

Shai started a non-government organisation to help abusive men called Khuluma Ndoda after he admitted to physically and emotionally abusing his wife.

In 2019, the actor was caught in the crossfire between police and residents in Dobsonville.

Shai was shot 11 times with rubber bullets while attempting to intervene during a stand-off between residents and the police.

But Shai came under fire recently for using inappropriate language in a video posted on social media when he challenged rapper Cassper Nyovest to a boxing match.

On Tuesday, he released a public apology to the rapper, and everyone affected by his remarks.

However, many criticised him for the bizarre statement which appeared unprovoked and questioned his advocacy against gender-based violence.

Congress of the People’s Dennis Bloem said he would be missed by his community: “This is a huge loss to the fight against gender-based violence. The country has lost an international actor. We will always remember his contribution.”

Meanwhile, the SABC said South Africa had lost yet another pioneer of the arts.