Mbongeni Ngema

South Africa mourns the loss of its legendary artist and anti-apartheid activist, Mbongeni Ngema, who tragically passed away on Wednesday evening following a road accident.

The 68-year-old playwright, known for his acclaimed work ‘Sarafina’, was a passenger in a sedan involved in a collision on the R61 road in Bizana.

Eastern Cape Transport MEC, Xolile Nqatha, expressed deep condolences to the Ngema family, acknowledging the profound impact of Ngema’s work in South Africa.

The provincial spokesperson, Unathi Binqose, confirmed that the accident occurred when the sedan, carrying Ngema and two others, collided with a truck.

While the truck’s occupants were unharmed, all three in the sedan sustained severe injuries.

Ngema, unfortunately, succumbed to his injuries upon arrival at the OR and Adelaide Tambo Memorial Hospital in Mbizana.

Read | Driver Dies After Falling Off His Truck in Lichtenburg

A case of culpable homicide is under investigation.

Regarded as a genius in his field, Ngema’s career spanned acting, choreography, composing, and singing, with his works embodying the spirit of resistance during the apartheid era.

His most famous work, ‘Sarafina’, written for the stage in 1988 and later adapted for the screen in 1992 starring Whoopi Goldberg, remains a significant cultural milestone.

His nephew, Sabelo, described him as a family leader, a professional, and a perfectionist whose artistic creations left an indelible mark.

“He was a leader in the family, and obviously in the world. A genius in his work, a perfectionist, you know. His music, his plays, his films… a true professional,” he said.

Tributes have poured in from various quarters, including from composer and music producer Gabi Le Roux, who reflected on Ngema’s extraordinary contributions to South African culture and the arts.

As South Africa grapples with this immense loss, Ngema’s legacy as a pivotal figure in the nation’s artistic and cultural history is firmly etched.

The Department of Transport, along with the entire nation, extends its heartfelt condolences to the Ngema family and wishes a speedy recovery to the two other injured occupants of the sedan.