SA's broke music stars

2013-09-01 10:00

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Music stars fallen on hard times are now homeless

Three of South Africa’s biggest music stars of the past few decades have fallen from grace.

Blondie Makhene, Pitch Black Afro and Stitch, who coined it at the zenith of their careers, are now paupers pinning their hopes on a musician-led charity organisation that plans to build houses for them.

Makhene (57), who sold thousands of albums and thrilled people at festivals with his revolutionary songs, is squatting at his mother’s house in Soweto after financial troubles forced him to sell his own place.

Pitch Black Afro (37) – whose real name is Thulani Ncgobo – is homeless. The musician, who rocked the music industry with his platinum-selling album Styling Gel, is hopping from one place to another in the seedy suburb of Berea in Johannesburg.

Stitch, too, is essentially squatting. The kwaito sensation, who dazzled fans with his album King of Digong, is staying at his mother’s house in Kagiso.

The shocking news emerged after the trio’s names appeared alongside others who received free houses built by African Musicians Against HIV/Aids (Amaha).

The organisation’s chief operating officer, Shakes Mavundla, confirmed to City Press that Amaha would build houses for the trio.

“They have been ambassadors of the organisation for many years, handing out the houses we built (for the) destitute. So it became worrisome that, after handing over the houses, they went back to their parental houses and asked to be accommodated,” he said.

Mavundla said that they had asked the City of Johannesburg to donate a stand for them so they could build houses for Pitch Black Afro and Blondie. Mogale City was asked for a stand to build a house for Stitch.

“Blondie lives with his mother in Soweto, Pitch Black Afro doesn’t have a place to stay and Stitch lives with his mother. We need to help them because they are our ambassadors and they, too, need these houses.”

Songwriter and musician Blondie Makhene squats at his mum’s house. Picture: Leon Sadiki/City Press

Blondie confirmed he did not have a house and he would be grateful if the organisation could build him one.

Blondie said he sold all his houses when he experienced financial problems some years ago – because, he said, homeland leaders who had a problem with his music sabotaged him.

“Leaders of former homelands fought with me and made sure that I don’t get gigs because they said I was playing political music.

“I then went to live with a friend in Magaliesburg and moved to Kagiso about three years ago. I rented a house. I decided to go live with my mother in Soweto,” he said.

Pitch Black Afro confirmed that he is a vagabond and that he would be happy if the organisation, which has already built 120 houses for destitute people throughout the country, could also provide him with shelter.

“I don’t have an address at the moment. I rented town houses and wasted my money on cars, which I crashed. I also made a lot of business mistakes by investing money in (the) wrong places. It will be a good start for me because I want to get married, but how do you get married with no house?”

Stitch said his dignity would be restored if he owned a house.

“I would have bought a house but I was exploited by record companies. I would build myself a studio in that house if I can get it. I’m now living with my mother and it is not right because she also needs her space.”

Amaha chairperson Doc Shebeleza said the three artists were among many beneficiaries who will receive free houses from their organisation.

“This coming weekend we are going to hand over 23 houses we built for the poorest of the poor in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal and all this would not have happened if it were not for the support we received from President Jacob Zuma, the SABC and companies that are donating building material.”

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