7 deaths during lockdown that shattered the nation

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Popular for her whirlwind hit, 'Obani Lababantu', Selepe quickly became an inspirational figure when she decided to record and drop her first amapiano single at 65, drawing her moniker from her age.
Popular for her whirlwind hit, 'Obani Lababantu', Selepe quickly became an inspirational figure when she decided to record and drop her first amapiano single at 65, drawing her moniker from her age.

Loss and devastation were recurring themes during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many South Africans suffered devastating family losses that were made worse by the fact that their mourning was restricted by measures put in place to curb the spread of Covid-19.

The nation also shared in collective grief when beloved and prominent figures died.

Here are seven deaths that South Africans mourned:

Gee Six Five: Although her time on stage was short lived, Nkosingiphile Olpha Selepa showed South Africans that it is never too late to go out and live your dream. The 65-year-old PhD student gave South Africa Obani Labantu, her only song release which charted across the country and inspired hashtags and memes. She died on 9 December after giving the country her first and only television performance. It was reported that she died after she tested positive for Covid-19.

Mary Twala
The funeral service of veteran actor Mary Twala took place on 9 July and was streamed across multiple platforms.

Mary Twala: The film and television icon died in hospital on 4 July at the age of 80. She proved that true icons never die because shortly after her death, she was featured in a body of work of one of the world's biggest musical icons Beyonce that was titled Black is King. In the loose adaptation of The Lion King, Twala played the role of Rafiki. Mary's son, media personality Somizi Mhlongo, took to social media to share how proud he was of his mother shortly after the visual album was released. Her swan song performance, fittingly titled This is not a burial, it's a Resurrection, is Lesotho's first ever Oscar entry.

Zindzi Mandela
Zindzi Mandela

Zindzi Mandela: South Africa's ambassador to Denmark and the youngest daughter of struggle heroes, Nelson Mandela and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, died on 13 July at the age of 59. Following her death, her family revealed that she had tested positive for Covid-19. Zindzi Mandela will forever be remembered for the time in Soweto in 1985 when she read out her father's rejection letter of then president PW Botha's offer of release on the condition that he renounce violence.

A portrait of George Bizos. Picture: Adrian Steirn

George Bizos: The anti-apartheid human rights lawyer died of natural causes at the age of 92 on 9 September. The phrase "if needs be" is synonymous with Bizos' legacy. He suggested that Mandela add it to his speech during the Rivonia trial address in which he said the liberation movement was a cause he was willing to die for. Bizos represented Mandela in both the treason and Rivonia trials. Bizos was hailed for his role in the fight against the apartheid government and his vested interest in the liberation of the oppressed.

The stage set-up at the memorial service for Nomasonto Maswanganyi, popularly known as Mshoza, in Johannesburg. (Photograph by Gallo Images/ Oupa Bopape)

Mshoza: One of the pioneers of Kwaito in South Africa, Nomasonto "Mshoza" Maswanganyi, died after complications from diabetes on 19 November at the age of 37. Although not very prominent on the music charts in her later years, the queen of Kwaito was described as someone who was very supportive of female artists in the music industry. Her death brought together icons in the South Music industry who paid their last respects.

Bob Mabena
Bob Mabena

Bob Mabena: The radio and television personality whose career spanned three decades died after a suspected cardiac attack at the age of 51 on 10 August. His death shocked many who had grown up hearing his distinct voice on the airwaves in their households. There were tributes for him from the country's major political figures, colleagues in the media and entertainment space, and other South Africans.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Photo: TEBOGO LETSIE

Kimi Makwetu: The outgoing Auditor-General (AG) died at the age of 54 on 11 November after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. He was praised by the financial community and politicians alike for seeing more than just numbers and creating a culture of accountability. Before his death, he was knee deep in his work, finalising reports, including a comprehensive report into Covid-19 corruption, in anticipation of his last day in office on 30 November. He famously championed the Public Audit Amendment Act which gave him as the AG the power to refer irregularities for further investigation and to launch a process to recover lost funds. The law was adopted in 2018 and was described as a means which transformed the office of the AG from a chihuahua into a pit bull.

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