2018: The year South Africa lost giants of the nation


As 2018 draws to a close, it will be remembered as the year that South Africa bid farewell to several of its A-list actors, singers, politicians, and most poignantly, the mother of the nation.

Winnie Nomzamo Madikizela-Mandela, Hugh Masekela, HHP, ProKid, Khabisi Musunkutu, Edna Molewa and Sandy Mokwena were all among those to leave us this year.

Musician Hugh Masekela died in January. (Supplied)

On January 23, 2018, the country was left in shock following the death of multiple award-winning trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The 78-year-old was battling prostate cancer.

Radiation oncologist Dr Yastira Ramdas, who worked closely with the late musician, said the jazz star "fought" till the very end.


Just two days later, veteran actor Sandy Mokwena died after being admitted to hospital. Mokwena was best known as Bra Eddie Khumalo in the e.tv soapie Scandal!

Veteran actor David Phetoe died in February. (Drum)

There was yet another loss for the acting profession when veteran actor David Phetoe died at the age of 85, on February 1.

Phetoe was well known for his role as Paul Moroka on the SABC drama series Generations.

According to reports, the family of the late actor said he had been ill for some time after struggling with prostate cancer.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in exile in Brandfort in the Free State. (Supplied)

Then, on April 2, South Africa was once again left reeling when the world learned that Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, 81, had died.

Mama Winnie was an anti-apartheid activist and politician, as well as the former wife of Nelson Mandela. She served as a member of Parliament from 1994 to 2003, and from 2009 until her death.

READ: EFF, ANC remember Mama Winnie on her birthday

From 1977 to 1985, she was banished to Brandfort in the Free State and was confined to the area, except for when she was allowed to visit her then-husband at Robben Island. The couple separated in 1992 and their divorce was finalised in March 1996.


In the same month that Madikizela-Mandela left us, former minister and ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya,75, died. Skweyiya passed away on April 11 at the Kloof Hospital in Pretoria.

ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya died in April. (Supplied)

He first became minister of public services and administration in 1994, and then later in 1999 became the minister of social development.

He was remembered for the role he played in establishing the Centre for Development Studies and the South African Legal Defence Fund.

Just a few days later, former YoTV presenter and Tempy Pushas actor, 29-year-old Akhumzi Jezile, was killed on April 28 in a horrific car crash on the N6, between Jamestown and Queenstown, in the Eastern Cape.

The crash also claimed the lives of actor Thobani Mseleni, actress and singer Siyasanga Kobese, and two other passengers.

READ:  Musa Mthombeni struggling to cope after the death of Akhumzi Jezile

The impact of depression and mental health was pushed into the spotlight when top South African cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi committed suicide on July 27.

He had struggled with depression for two years. Eight months before his death, he had tendered his resignation to the University of Cape Town (UCT). It was however, apparently declined.

He was the Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at UCT and an A-rated National Research Foundation researcher.



Prior to this, he was the head of the Department of Medicine at UCT and Groote Schuur Hospital.

Mayosi was awarded the highest honour, the Order of Mapungubwe (Silver), in 2009.

Linda ‘ProKid’ Mkhize

Hip hop sensation Linda 'ProKid' Mkhize died in August. (Supplied)

Hip hop sensation Linda 'ProKid' Mkhize was just 37 years old when he died on August 8, while visiting friends in Johannesburg.

According to his family, the rapper suffered a hemosuccus pancreaticus – which is a rare cause of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Mkhize was described as a formidable wordsmith with the allure of street essence. He was very much a proud Soweto resident, who often stated in his music that he was the township's number one boy.

READ: Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has died

In September, the first female premier of the North West province and environmental affairs minister Edna Molewa, 61, died in a Pretoria hospital "after a period of illness".

Molewa, who was a member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), became involved in the struggle in the 1970s. She previously served as the deputy president of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers' Union (SACCAWU).

Following her passing, the EFF described Molewa as one of the hard-working ministers and public servants with an impeccable struggle record.

A few months later, apartheid-era foreign affairs minister Pik Botha died on October 12, aged 86.

His son, Piet Botha, who is in the band Jack Hammer, confirmed his father died peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of the morning.

"His wife Ina was with him until the end," he said.

"He was very sick during the last three weeks and his body just couldn't take it anymore."


Mahikeng was covered by a dark cloud following the death of its own prodigy Jabulani Tsambo. (Supplied)

The music industry was once again in shock following the death of 38-year-old Jabulani Tsambo, popularly known as HHP, in October 2018.

The Motswako rapper and award-winning musician who performed in Setswana, died on October 24, at his house in Randburg. It is believed he committed suicide.

Tsambo revealed in a 2016 interview that he had been battling depression due to his faltering career.

The lead-up to his funeral was filled with drama when Lerato Sengadi approached the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg, in an effort to be recognised as his customary wife. The court ruled in her favour, but also said that his burial in his hometown of Mafikeng should go ahead.




On December 19, Kwaito star Vusi "Mavusana" Ngwenya, 46, died on his birthday in Port Elizabeth.

Mavusana formed part of popular kwaito group "Oda Meesta", which was well known for the track Summertime.

READ: High praise for ANC's Khabisi Mosunkutu at memorial service

A few days later, former Gauteng MEC for transport and senior ANC member Khabisi Mosunkutu died at his Johannesburg home on December 24, after a long illness.

It is believed that he died from complications of a stroke he had suffered in July this year. He had been receiving treatment, but his condition worsened.

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