- Ayanda Mbatyothi rose to fame for having a striking resemblance to South Africa's first democratic president.
- He also starred in Leon Schuster's 2005 comedy film Mama Jack.
- Mbatyothi would often make public appearances draped in a Madiba shirt, wearing a big smile, and doing Madiba's iconic fist-lifting gesture.
"It is not a coincidence that he died a day after Nelson Mandela's birthday. I believe Madiba called him."
Those were the words of the widow of an Eastern Cape community activist and actor famous for being a "lookalike" of beloved late former president Nelson Mandela.
Ayanda Mbatyothi, who appeared in Leon Schuster's 2005 film Mama Jack, died of Covid-19 on Sunday. He was 46.
He rose to fame for bearing a striking resemblance to South Africa's first black president.
Like Madiba, he was a towering figure and had the former president's demeanour.
He was often seen in public draped in a Madiba shirt with a beaming smile, waving at people and doing Madiba's iconic fist-lifting gesture.
The ANC harnessed Mbatyothi's popularity and often invited him to election campaigns to entertain and attract supporters.
His wife of eight years Noludwe Kanandawo confirmed to News24 that Mbatyothi had died at 05:00 at Frere Hospital in East London.
She said he was admitted on 3 July with Covid-19 related symptoms.
He will be buried at his ancestral home in Alice's kwa Baba Village on Saturday, said Kanandawo.
Mbatyothi is survived by his wife and a son aged 23 and two daughters aged 12 and 10.
In an interview on Monday, Kanandawo said: "Just like Madiba, my husband loved children very much and the citizens of this country. He was really Madiba. He had the spirit of Madiba."
"I am devastated by his death, but I need to be strong for my children. He loved children more than anything. Every year, he would celebrate Madiba’s birthday by donating food, clothes and toys to children. I will miss him," Kanandawo said.
"He died a day after Madiba's birthday. It is not a coincidence. I believe Madiba called him. He adored Madiba."