Entertainment industry mourns untimely death of ‘Sarafina!’ star Mbongeni Ngema

Just as 2023 draws to a close, South Africa has been hit with another shock death in the entertainment industry.

Local playwright and actor Mbongeni Ngema, 68, was killed in a head-on car accident on Wednesday night while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape. He was a passenger in one of the vehicles.

Shortly after Ngema’s passing, the singer’s family issued an official statement to confirm the sad news.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved brother, father, husband and a patriot, Mbongeni Ngema,” the statement read.

The theatre producer was best known for his role as Sabela in 1992 movie ‘Sarafina!’ which he co-wrote; as well as multi-award-winning ‘Woza Albert!’

Born in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal, in 1955, Ngema started his illustrious career as a theatre backing guitarist.

Over the years, he became well-known for his plays that reflected the resilience of black South Africans under apartheid.

As news of Ngema’s death flooded social media, fellow industry peers took the opportunity to share their fond memories of him.

Putco Mafani, station manager at Rhythm FM posted a picture of the two alongside a note, reading: “Mbongeni Ngema was a World Music Icon.”

Gauteng MEC for Health and Wellness Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko said, “I’m truly sorry to hear about the tragic loss of Mbongeni Ngema in a car accident during the festive, as he was returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki. His passing is a heartbreaking reminder of the fragility of life, especially during moments meant for celebration & reflection.”

TV host and entertainment reporter Jen Su shared their very first interview at the Cannes Film Festival, and wrote: “RIP Mbongeni Ngema – a true inspiration and talent, who will always be in our hearts.”

While paying tribute to her friend, Felicia Mabuza-Suttle revealed that it was Ngema who composed the jingle for her ‘Felicia Show.’

In September this year, Ngema’s latest theatre production ‘Black’ premiered at the Theatre of Marcellus at Emperors Place, in Gauteng.

With a cast of 30 performers, dancers and a 10-piece band, Ngema’s life story was told using the power of performance to share his personal journey and experiences.

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