The Gauteng Film Commission (GFC) has paid tribute to Zakes Zulu Mokae, who passed away on Friday 11 September 2009 in Las Vegas, calling him a role model for emerging actors in the local industry.

�We are saddened by his passing as he was an inspiration to many in the acting and film industry,� said Terry Tselane, CEO of the GFC, adding that through his steadfast commitment to both his craft and his country, Mokae showed many young people just what it took to be a person of integrity and brilliance within this highly competitive sector.

�He was truly one of the greats in our industry, unfortunately perhaps more recognised overseas than locally. Yet there are many respected figures in the South African industry today who owe their inspiration to him and we trust that in years to come, many more will realise the valuable contribution he made,� added Tselane.

Having spent much of his life in exile, Mokae was the recipient of the Order of Ikhamanga: Category II Silver, for his excellent contribution to South African theatre and achievement in the field of acting.

Producer and director Cedric Sundstrom sent a tribute to the GFC on Mokae:

�He was born in Johannesburg in 1935 and attended St Peter's Anglican school in Rosettenville. He started his acting career on stage with Athol Fugard -The Blood Knot and No good Friday (to start with). He left South Africa in the 60's and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. His first film role was in MGM's The Comedians (1967), with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.

�Zakes worked mainly on international films like The Serpent and the Rainbow, Waterworld with Kevin Costner and, among many others, Vampire in Brooklyn with Eddie Murphy and Angela Bassett. In 1982 he won a Tony award on Broadway for Master Harold and the Boys, which was later filmed with Matthew Broderick. He also appeared in Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Spacey. Back in Africa, he appeared in Cry Freedom (1987), A Dry White Season(1989), with Donald Sutherland and Marlon Brando, and Dust Devils in 1992 for South African born director Richard Stanley. Zakes has also done an enormous amount of television work, including The West Wing, OZ, The X Files.

�Zakes played the saxophone with Hugh Masekela. In 2005 ,he was presented with the South African Life Time Achievement Award for his stage work.

�When I interviewed him for the series South Africa Cinema, a History, I found a man of great stature and a wonderful person with great talent. Zakes Mokae will be missed and remembered as one of South Africa's great performers,� wrote Sundstrom.