Deborah Fraser’s family’s despair: ‘We never thought the KZN rains could flood her gravesite’

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Ntombeningi Sithole (right) says the the late gospel singer Deborah Fraser's funeral ended up being a third memorial service.
Ntombeningi Sithole (right) says the the late gospel singer Deborah Fraser's funeral ended up being a third memorial service.
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It was raining so heavily that the floods threatened to wash away the last memory of what would have been the late gospel singer's final resting place.

Deborah Fraser was supposed to be buried this past weekend, with industry friends and family attending the dignified funeral in KwaZulu-Natal.

However when the family headed to the gravesite, they found that the place where her tombstone was to be erected had been washed away.

It's grief upon grief and almost too painful for the family to bear, says her brand manager at Universal Music Ntombeningi Sithole.

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This incident is very painful to the family because they spent money on a funeral that ended up being the third memorial for the gospel sensation, Ntombeningi tells Drum.

“The weather was not good but we never thought it could flood the grave. We had the ceremony, and everything went well. When we got to Hillcrest cemetery it was a disaster, and the family had to come up with the decision of taking the body back to the mortuary. The funeral will take place on another day that was not communicated before I left for Johannesburg,” she says.

She says the family will wait for better weather conditions to come up with a date for a small private ceremony that will be attended by family and close friends.

“I was hurt on behalf of the family; no one should ever be in a position to send the body back on the day of the funeral. A funeral is a process of grieving and they are not yet close because they still need to worry about arranging another funeral.

"It broke my heart because I was close to Mam’ Deborah, I was managing her brand on her last album doing A&R for Universal Music. You know when you already told yourself that you are going to lay someone to their resting place and something like this happens, it breaks your spirit.”

Ntombeningi says this delays the family’s closure because she is still not buried and some artists have already contributed monies to help toward the funeral and this set them back.

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She says she was there when Deborah’s health deteriorated and knows how bad it was financially for the gospel star, especially with Covid and the recording of the last album.

“I don’t want to lie the department [of arts and culture]  has failed Deborah, I even mentioned this on the memorial service that I have knocked on different departments for assistance but there was no one coming to the party. I am saddened by this because I am not sure if I will be able to attend the funeral this whole thing is a mess hopefully everything will go well,” she says.

Fans can still look forward to hearing the music Deborah was working on before her death, though, Ntombeningi says even though the release date cannot yet be confirmed.

"Things were bad when recording this album I had to approach artists to work with Deborah because she needed a good comeback, she shares.

“I can’t wait for the release of this project. It is a beautiful body of work that takes you back to when you first heard Deborah. She left us with a melodic album and I hope that people will receive it well and show love.”

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