Tensions were visibly high in the front row at the memorial service of award-winning musician Mandla ‘Mampintsha’ Maphumulo as his mother sat a few seats away from his widow and artist Bongekile ‘Babes Wodumo’ Simelane.
Maphumulo passed away in hospital on Saturday after suffering a minor stroke two weeks ago. He was 40 years old.
The two women who held important roles in the life of the muso have in the past made their dislike for each other public through the reality television show Uthando Lodumo and various media reports.
Maphumulo’s mother, Zamanguni Gumede, surrounded by her family, arrived at the memorial service at the eThekwini Community Church in Durban over an hour late, disrupting music boss DJ Tira’s speech who had to stop as she sat down and asked the crowd to welcome her.
READ: WATCH: Big Nuz member Mandla 'Mampintsha' Maphumulo's memorial service
Gumede, who was walking with the aid of two other women who were holding her arms side by side, walked into the hall, which turned silent as she passed Simelane and her family in the front row - reserved for family - and sat at the other end.
Gumede was not on the programme as Maphumulo’s father, Thembinkosi, his sister Khanyo, Simelane’s father, Welcome, and her sister Nondumiso represented the family.
Simelane, however, who was surrounded by armed guards, appeared in good spirits as she held their son, Sponge, in her arms and danced to Maphumulo’s group Big Nuz’s new song ngeke, which prompted the crowd to burst into song and danced along with her.
But the musician was brought to tears when Maphumulo’s close friends took to the stage to share their memories and described him as a breadwinner to all of them.
Speaking on behalf of industry friends and their group Big Nuz, the only surviving member of the group and long-term friend Mzi ‘Danger’ Ntsomela said he was saddened to lose another member of the group.
R Mashesha, whose given name was Sibusiso Khomo, was the third founding member of the group. He passed away following surgical complications in August 2015.
Ntsomela said he would continue with the legacy of the group along with the help of other artists, including music boss and the group’s former manager DJ Tira.
“We were not people who talked a lot, all of us as a group, from R Mashesha, Mampintsha and myself. We were people who liked to chill in the studio and make music. We thank you for your support from day one.
“We were the first Durban artists to have a song of the year. It was not because we were wiser. We just became united as artists,” he said.
READ: Big Nuz member Mampintsha passes away
DJ Tira, given name Mthokosizi Khathi, added he would support Simelane’s music career in his friend's honour.
“Our friend is gone. We will cry, but we also believe that his spirit is with us and we still have some work to do to raise his children and his company. West Ink can't die. It is our company,” he said.
The music boss added: “It is still unbelievable that my friend is gone. It is hard. There are things that you never think will happen. I never thought that in my life I would see Mampintsha's picture behind me like this. My heart is still sore but what will make us go forward is the love that you give us.”
Thembinkosi, who is a church pastor, said he was comforted by the last conversation he had with his son, who reassured him that he was still born again.
Maphumulo's father said:
Simelane’s father said he was happy that Maphumulo left him with a grandchild.
“My son-in-law, I am grateful because he left me with a grandchild... I am happy that I am an in-law of the Maphumulo family. Babes is a musician because of Mampintsha. He taught and mentored my child until she became the musician that she is. He left her as an artist who can feed herself. Very few men can do that for their spouses. He groomed his wife to be who she is.”
Maphumulo’s sister-in-law and manager Nondu said: “We are hurt. Many people knew that my brother-in-law was my best friend, so we are very hurt, but God's will is what it is... Go well, my brother-in-law, until we see each other again.”
The musician will be buried on Friday.