Mbongeni Ngema’s widow Nompumelelo Gumede-Ngema inconsolable at playwright’s funeral

Performers, family and friends of the late acclaimed playwright, composer, director and singer Dr Mbongeni Ngema.

The Durban ICC was a full house on Friday as friends and family paid their final respects to late veteran playwright Mbongeni Ngema.

The provincial funeral category two was attended by politicians and famous faces in the entertainment industry.

Ngema was killed in a head-on collision on December 27 while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in Bizana, Eastern Cape. He was a passenger in the car.

The 68-year-old’s wife Nompumelelo Gumede-Ngema was one of a few who was tasked with speaking at his funeral.

Overcome with emotion, Gumede-Ngema took to the podium but was unable to deliver her speech.

Prof Vusimuzi Gumede, who accompanied her to the stand, read the tribute on her behalf.

“How do I begin to put together the pieces of my puzzle when the main part, you, are not around?

In her letter, Gumede-Ngema spoke about how during their 17 years of marriage, the ‘Sarafina!’ star become more than just a husband. “You truly did become my best friend, my mentor, and a centre that held everything together for me.

“You were a legend to many, but to me, you will always remain my husband. Thank you for loving me.”

The late director’s ex-wife Leteti Khumalo also delivered a glowing tribute moments before the funeral.

Speaking to eNCA, Khumalo said, “He introduced me and put me on the global map.

“I am known throughout the world because he took me from Kwa-Mashu and put me in this industry.”

Even in death, Ngema’s legacy has sparked a huge debate among South Africans about rumours that had always surrounded him.

Just days before his funeral, his family was forced to deny a woman’s claims that she married Ngema under customary law.

Ngema’s brother Nhlanhla Ngema told the Daily News on Thursday that the family was unaware of Ngema’s marriage to Yolanda Wanda Moncho, except that he had heard that there was a woman who was managing his brother’s work.

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