Phakathi tragically passed away last Sunday in a car accident in Seven Oak, Greytown, on his way to Umvoti FC, the ABC Motsepe League club he was coaching in KwaZulu-Natal.
The 43-year-old was one of the members of the Arrows side that rose to prominence in the 1999/00 season, when they were promoted to the PSL. He started his career at the club in 1996, when former Arrows chairman Rocky Madlala bought the status of Ntokozo FC.
‘Mlisa’, as he was affectionately known, joined Orlando Pirates in 2002 and won the title with coach Roy Barreto before he returned to Abafana Bes’Thende in 2005.
He worked as an assistant coach to Shaun Bartlett in the 2014/15 campaign when Arrows won the National First Division title after they were relegated from the PSL in the previous season.
Tshabalala criticised Arrows for not showing up to the memorial service.
“Why is the Golden Arrows [management] not here? I think the unity that has been spoken of here is very important and we must pay attention to details and stay together, like all other the provinces, like all the other teams,” Tshabalala said.
“When someone has passed away, whatever happened in the past, we put that aside. To all the teams’ representatives who are here today, I want you to pass that message and I’d like to see you all of you at home [Phakathi’s house] when we bury him on Sunday.
“He was a hero and he’s a national hero. This union that exists today takes care of the rights of the players and Bheka participated in taking the union [to] where it is.
“We’ll make sure that we embrace the legacy that he has left, within the organisation, within the football industry as a whole. I’ll end here and say Rest In Peace Qhawe [comrade].”
Arrows chairperson Mato Madlala, however, said Phakathi’s family knows what she has done for them and their fallen hero.
“The family knows the truth. I don’t care about what SAPFU said. What is more important is the family,” Madlala said when KickOff.com contacted her.
“What I did for the family… I don’t need it to be written and praised [in the media], but the family knows the truth and those are the people who matter a lot to me at this point in time.
“What I did came from the heart, the family knows the truth. So I won’t argue with people who don’t have responsibilities, who don’t work. If they decide to come today, they don’t know when I went to the family and what I did for the family, they don’t know.”