19/03/2017 12:55 SAST | Updated 19/03/2017 14:12 SAST

From 'S'dumo' To 'It's Good, It's Nice' And 'Shebeleza', Joe Mafela Made Himself A Household Name In South Africa

Mafela was driving home when he died in an accident in Johannesburg.

Popular South African comedy actor Joe Mafela was driving home when he died in a car crash in Johannesburg on Saturday night, said his family.

"He was involved in a car accident at around 10pm" said Milly Mulelu, Mafela's niece, on behalf of the family.

"He was on his way back home."

Mulelu said it wasn't clear how the accident happened but there were two vehicles involved. She dismissed rumours that Mafela, 73, had been ill.

"He wasn't ill at all. In fact, he'd just come back from holiday with his wife, on a boat cruise, they came back on Friday and he was really in quite a happy mood," she said.

"For us it's a great loss. We fully realise that we shared his life with the rest of South Africa and we are really heartened by all the condolences that we are receiving from the public."

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department confirmed his death and said a charge of culpable homicide is being investigated; this is standard in a traffic death.

JMPD spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Mafela had been driving his Ford Figo on the M1 north, just past Oxford Road, shortly before 10pm on Saturday night. His vehicle and an Isuzu double cab, which was travelling in the same direction, collided.

"The driver of the Ford Figo was Joe Mafela and was declared dead on the scene. The driver of the double cab was not injured," said Minnaar.

"The cause of the accident will be investigated and there will be a charge of culpable homicide investigated."

Minnaar said there was "no indication" that either driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but that this would be investigated.

The drivers were the sole occupants of the vehicles.

Mafela was born on June 26, 1943.

He leaves his wife, four children and six grandchildren, said Mulelu.

Mafela made his name as S'dumo in the TV comedy "'Sgudi 'Snaysi" which was broadcast on SABC1.

TV SA listed his credits as including television productions and movies, including the films "Zulu", "Tokoloshe", "Shout at the Devil", "Game for Vultures", "Escape from Angola", "Freedom Fighters", "Red Scorpion" and "Tigers Don't Cry". He produced musicals and received a Duku Duku Award for service to the television industry and a Naledi Theatre Management Lifetime Achievement Award, said TV SA.

He was also known for his role in Chicken Licken adverts, singing "It's good, good, good, it's good, it's nice".