Cape Town - Former South Africa's Got Talent winner and opera singer James Bhemjee's voice fell silent on Tuesday night.
Bhemjee, 57, is believed to have died in hospital after a short illness.
Messages of condolences from industry colleagues, friends and family flooded social media as the news of his passing spread.
Sasha-Lee Davids wrote: "Heartbroken My Duet Partner. Rest Peacefully dear friend"
Production company Marmalade Productions posted: “It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the loss of a good friend and colleague, Mr James Bhemgee. We would like to send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and all those who mourn him. #RIPJamesBhemgee”.
Musician and friend, Alistair Izobell, wrote: “Rest sweetly brother.... your voice will forever ring in my heart. Your race is done. You made many hearts smile with your talent and charm.”
A message by Rif’at Browers read: “I'm completely shattered by the news that my friend, the larger than life diminutive person with the BIGGEST voice, James Bhemgee has passed away very unexpectedly. May his soul rest in peace. James last performed for Choice Drug Counselling Services in May 2022.”
Bhemjee, also known as the "Singing Dustbin Collector" had shot to stardom in 2010 when he serenaded the country with his tenor voice, walking away with R250 000 cash prize money in the South Africa's Got Talent competition.
Hailing from Kalksteenfontein and later living in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain, Bhemjee was discovered while working as a street sweeper with no formal voice training, and released his debut album titled “Vincero” in November 2011.