Fans rally round maskandi star who shot band mate who later died in hospital
‘Bengizivikela nami, bekumele ngenzenjani, bekumele kufe mina?” (It was self-defence, what was I supposed to do, to die?) asked the soft-spoken maskandi legend Phuzekhemisi on Friday after his appearance in the Durban Magistrates’ Court.
He is facing charges of attempted murder that are expected to be escalated to murder charges now that the man he shot has died.
Phuzekhemisi, real name Zibokwakhe Mnyandu, sounded preoccupied on the phone to City Press. In the background we could hear fans chanting, “Phuzekhemisi! Phuzekhemisi!”
“I don’t want to talk much about this matter,” said the legendary musician before ending the call. His fans are still in shock that “ubaba”, as he is affectionately known, could be locked away in jail.
The 55-year-old, who has more than 20 albums under his belt, is reported to have shot long-time friend and member of his band Selby Shezi in the stomach, chest and leg during an argument on December 9. Shezi, a drummer, was rushed to hospital, where he later died.
Reliable sources close to the investigation say Phuzekhemisi was not charged with murder on Friday as police still need to study the postmortem on Shezi. He is out on R3 000 bail for attempted murder. His bail application, seen by City Press, states that he has seven children, five of them still at school, whom he supports.
According to the attempted murder charge sheet, Phuzekhemisi assaulted Shezi by hitting him with the butt of the firearm that he shot him with.
“On December 9 2018, the accused illegally handled a firearm (a 9mm Norinco) while under the influence of a substance which has an intoxicating or a narcotic effect,” it reads.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala has previously stated that Phuzekhemisi and two band members were apparently in a car in Amanzimtoti when they had an argument.
Reports say Phuzekhemisi was allegedly shot in the forehead but was only grazed by the bullet. It is still unclear who pulled the trigger first.
‘My fans keep me strong’
When City Press contacted the maskandi star again yesterday, he said he was preparing to go on stage to give his fans a splendid performance in Richmond in KwaZulu-Natal.
He is billed to perform at numerous maskandi events in the coming months.
He said: “I would not stop performing for my loyal fans who supported me from day one. This is the first time this has ever happened to me. I didn’t see it coming, but I should be the one who is dead right now.”
The veteran singer is known for producing tunes with controversial lyrics.
Asked what he would like to say to his fans, he replied: “They have been very supportive. Since this incident my house is always jam-packed every day with many people from different walks of life, to comfort me. It is they who give me strength and make me strong every day.”
The grandfather of Zulu radio and maskandi music, Bhodloza Nzimande, told City Press that he was as shocked as everyone else to learn what had happened.
He described Phuzekhemisi as a down-to-earth and humble soul.
“I know him very well. When I was working for Ukhozi FM as a station manager many years ago, I used to give him and other maskandi musicians advice. They were like my kids to me,” Nzimande said, adding that he hasn’t spoken to Phuzekhemisi since the incident.
“I would like to sit him down to ask him what exactly happened and what triggered him to shoot his band mate,” he said.
Award-winning musician Mbuso Khoza, who worked with Phuzekhemisi two years ago, said he was also surprised, because he knows the star as a very calm person who always wanted to uplift young people musically.
“I remember working with him in studio ... Although he was the eldest, he still wanted young people’s input musically and this showed that he appreciates young people,” said Khoza.
As far as City Press could ascertain, Phuzekhemisi has no prior convictions.