Jele took over the permanent captaincy upon Oupa Manyisa’s move to Mamelodi Sundowns last year and played a key role in The Buccaneers' resurgence last season, subsequently earning himself a contract extension with the club recently.
This season, expectations have risen substantially as the Pirates faithful anticipate an end to their four-year trophy drought, with an improvement on their runners-up finish in the Absa Premiership perhaps of highest priority.
Lekgwathi, who famously led the club to their historic double-treble six years ago, has backed his former teammate to handle the responsibility, although also feels he needs support from both his teammates as well as advice from former Bucs captains.
“I think, for me, he’s a good captain. The only issue is that sometimes he’s quiet man, and you know as a captain you can’t just lead the team alone, there must be senior players to help you,” Lekgwathi tells KickOff.com.
“As you know, I used to tell people during my time we had many captains – Benni [McCarthy], Daine [Klate], Moeneeb [Josephs] … Obviously I was the one wearing the armband as the main captain, but everyone led in their own way.
“Also, as a captain, you must seek guidance from previous captains. I used to communicate with ‘Magents’ Motale, and some of those I used to play with – Papi Khomane and ‘Tso’ [Vilakazi], they used to help me.
“So my advice to him is that he should make sure he contacts some of the ex-Pirates captains and ask for their advice. I know he won the treble but he did so as a player and not a captain, so he should ask for advice.
“Before each and every game, I used to talk to Magents, sometimes he used to call me and tell me, ‘Today you are playing against Chiefs, make sure you do one, two, three,’ or, ‘This is a cup game and, as a captain, just do one, two, three’.”
‘Phinda Mzala’, as the 42-year-old former defender is commonly referred to, also points to club chairman Irvin Khoza as a source of advice that Jele could turn to.
“Sometimes you must also seek advice from the chairman,” he adds.
“I know people will say, ‘Hai, Irvin didn’t play football’ but I’m telling you the chairman can analyse the game and the players, he’ll tell you as a captain, ‘Why didn’t you do one, two, three?’
“So that’s my advice to him, even if he doesn’t come to me, there are many former captains he can go to, as well as the chairman.”