Kerkorrel commits suicide

2002-11-12 20:31

Cape Town - A tragic loss for South African and international music: Ralph Rabie, on stage known as Johannes Kerkorrel, has allegedly committed suicide in Kleinmond on Tuesday afternoon.

Although provincial police spokesperson, Captain Etienne Terblanché, could not confirm the name, he did say that a "a well-known male in his 40s" was found hanging from a tree in the Kleinmond area "around 12:40 on Tuesday".

News24 made several calls to Rabie's personal cellphone number when the first rumour about his tragic death surfaced, but only got an answering message.

Colleagues and close friends of Rabie were phoned, but no one knew.

Finally a female friend close to the Rabie family confirmed that the well-known and well-loved performer had indeed taken his own life.

When confronted with these unconfirmed facts, people in the music industry reacted with shock and devastation.

Karen Zoid, nationally known as the rock diva of South Africa, was speechless. "It cannot be true," she said, "I am shocked ... it is ... too much too contemplate. We would have worked together on a show for next year's Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. This is too hectic..."

Music and festival promoter Dirk Uys said: "... a tragedy, I can not believe it. Ralph had the guts to stand up against PW Botha and the Apartheid system. He meant a lot to South African music - it is a great loss..."

Prominence Kerkorrel sprang to prominence in 1986 when he went on stage in a satirical political cabaret at the Green Room in Cape Town.

In the same year he moved to Johannesburg, his birthplace, to join another political cabaret before he embarked in his singing career with artists such a Nataniel, Koos Kombuis and Gerrit Schoonhoven.

Kerkorrel was also a member of the alternative Afrikaans group, the Gereformeerde Blues Band.

As an alternative musician he fell foul of the conservative Afrikaans establishment because of his criticism of and rebellion against the autocratic nature of the apartheid government of the time.

Kerkorrel also worked as a journalist for several Afrikaans newspapers in the 1980s.

He leaves his divorced wife and a teenage son.