Covid-19: Well-known Madiba impersonator, actor dies a day after Mandela's birthday

Ayanda Mbatyothi at the opening of Parliament in 2009. (Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Ayanda Mbatyothi at the opening of Parliament in 2009. (Photo by Media24/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

  • 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."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
Until the matric exams are over, my family is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Self-isolating to ensure we don't miss any exams
12% - 126 votes
Following Covid-19 safety protocols, but still going out like normal
55% - 569 votes
Business as usual, we're not worried about the virus
33% - 348 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
16.26
(+0.54)
ZAR/GBP
21.06
(+0.50)
ZAR/EUR
18.94
(+0.91)
ZAR/AUD
11.42
(+0.83)
ZAR/JPY
0.16
(+0.66)
Gold
1878.28
(+0.54)
Silver
23.57
(+1.25)
Platinum
844.00
(-0.47)
Brent Crude
38.07
(-3.48)
Palladium
2211.50
(+0.50)
All Share
51684.70
(-0.41)
Top 40
47472.92
(-0.22)
Financial 15
9459.76
(-3.04)
Industrial 25
73405.64
(+1.00)
Resource 10
47245.91
(-1.21)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo