SA celebrities who passed away in 2019


Our celebrities are the backbone of the country’s entertainment industry, achieving unforgettable milestones every year.

However, when tragedy strikes, fans find themselves unexpectedly having to say goodbye to their favourite stars.

These are the celebs who passed on in 2019.

Xolani Gwala

Known to many for his prolific career in the field of journalism, veteran broadcast journalist 44-year-old Xolani passed away on 1 November, following a two-year battle with colon cancer. Aside from SABC News bulletins, Xolani's 24-year career spanned across popular informative television and radio shows such as SABC1’s Asikhulume, SABC3’s News Hour, as well as both SAfm and 702’s breakfast shows.

Andile Gumbi

Popularly known for his role as Zweli Ngubane in Mzansi Magic’s Isibaya, 36-year-old Andile died on 25 October after suffering a heart attack while acting in a musical in Israel. Aside from his work on television, he was also known for doing theatre work, most notably for playing the iconic role of “adult” Simba in Disney’s long-running musical The Lion King – on both Broadway and West End.

Thami Shobede

Idols SA season 12 runner-up Thami died in hospital in September. The 31-year-old suffered health complications. The tragic news was confirmed by his label, Gallo Record Company.

David Kekana

SABC sports analyst and anchor David died on 26 August at the age of 47, due to diabetes-related illnesses. His career at the SABC spanned 18 years upon which he built himself a solid reputation as a well-known sports analyst.

Neyi Zimu

Gospel star and  Neyi died on 4 December in hospital after a long battle with skin cancer. The 49-year-old had been receiving treatment for a rear blood disorder that affected his skin. Announcement of the singer’s passing was difficult news for many well-known public figures such the EEF’s chief-whip Floyd Shivambu and many of his fans who had been impacted by his life and his music.

Nomhle Nkonyeni

Veteran actress Nomhle passed away during the early hours of Wednesday 10 July at the age of 77, after suffering a short illness. She is well-reputed for her contribution to the local film industry through her extensive career in television, film and theatre. 

Johnny Clegg

Born Jonathan Paul Glegg in the UK, the legendary musician, songwriter and activist famously known as Johnny Clegg, died on 16 at the age of 66 due to pancreatic cancer. With decades of having built his legacy in Mzansi’s music industry, Johnny was popularly known for his ability to speak and sing fluently in isiZulu. The Asimbonanga hit-maker was also a well-known critic of the apartheid regime and used his music to convey his message. 

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