She was later discharged. But while his family have been left in total shock after his unexpected passing, it has brought condolences and praise of his abilities from diverse voices far and wide.
The 37-year-old award-winning singer died on Monday morning of complications related to kidney failure. He was rushed to Life Fourways Hospital the night before.
His long-time friend, now spokesperson for the Ncwane family, Sipho Makhabane, became emotional as he told The Star about his friend being “unable to hold on”.
Preparing to perform at a Kaya FM Soul-Inspired concert in Roodepoort on Sunday, Ncwane was too weak to go on stage, and was taken back to his home. It was around 6pm on Sunday that Ncwane’s wife Ayanda had to summon paramedics to take him to Life Fourways Hospital, where it was determined that his kidneys had failed.
“On Monday, before long, he was gone,” said Makhabane, who said Ayanda was by his side until the end. “We lost a giant, a role model of the music industry. The only thing we can do is pick up the pieces and move forward. We just ask our fellow Africans pray for him and his family.”
His distraught sister Gugulethu Ncwane, speaking to The Star at a family home in Emalangeni on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, said they had received news that Ncwane had passed away on Monday morning.
“We were told that he had suffered breathing problems and was rushed to hospital, where he passed away. He was not sick at all, he was fine. It was all very sudden,” she said.
“He was everything to us, we have lost everything. He was very popular. Every time he was here the yard would be packed full of people,” said Gugulethu.
“He was an open book, as he never kept anything bottled up inside. We have lost so much,” she said as she tried to control her grief and tears.
By the afternoon, the news had filtered down to the community in Emalangeni where his mother Fikile lives.
Neighbours were pouring into the family home with prayers and words of comfort. The family members were fielding calls from friends and relatives asking in disbelief whether the news was true.
“He was last here in October and he was fine,” said Gugulethu of her brother’s last visit to their family home, where they reminisced about their childhood.
She said she would miss his warmth. “He was a very kind-hearted man and a very giving person, and he loved me and his family. We had special names for each other, and every time he came here, he would call me by that special name and I would call him by his.”
Outpourings of praise for the singer began the moment the public became aware of his sudden death.
President Jacob Zuma described him as one of the country’s greatest musical assets.
“The passing of Mr Ncwane is a massive loss for the country. His music touched the hearts of millions of people.
“He was one of the best gospel artists that the country has ever produced, and he left us at such a young age. We are deeply saddened. May his soul rest in peace,” Zuma added.
The DA in KwaZulu-Natal described Ncwane as an icon, not only for the province but for the entire country.
Meanwhile, thousands of fans took to social media to share their grief after receiving the news that Ncwane had died at such a young age.
“Our heartfelt condolences to the Ncwane family. We have received the saddest news that our beloved friend Sfiso Ncwane has passed away. Please keep the family in prayer,” gospel community radio station Highway posted on Facebook on Monday.
The message in his Music kept me going in difficult times and gave me hope
.was hoping to watch him perform for the 2nd time #SfisoNcwane
No one can "Ooh hoo yeah" better than #SfisoNcwane. Thoughts and prayers are with the Ncwane family
Ncwane was famous for hits such as Phakama Nkosi yeZulu and Kulungile Baba, which won the South African Music Awards record of the year in 2013, and was nominated for the Crown Awards song of the year.
Ncwane survived several health scares, including several fainting spells, being struck by lightning and a heart attack.
After his heart attack, Ncwane thanked his “spiritual father” Rev Francis Anosike by buying him a R1.9 million Mercedes-Benz, annoying his mother, who berated the musician for not giving her one of the cars as well.
Ncwane leaves his wife Ayanda and their two children Ngcweti and Umawenzokuhle, as well as a daughter, Nqobile, from a previous relationship.