Legendary playwright Mbongeni Ngema granted special provincial funeral

Playwright Mbongeni Ngema. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/Independent Archives.

Playwright Mbongeni Ngema. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/Independent Archives.

Published Jan 2, 2024


The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has announced that Mbongeni Ngema has been granted a special provincial official funeral category 2.

The legendary playwright and director, 68, was killed in a head-on car accident last Wednesday night while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.

Shortly after Ngema’s passing, the singer’s family issued an official statement to confirm the sad news.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved brother, father, husband and a patriot, Mbongeni Ngema,” the statement read.

The ‘Sarafina!’ writer was an outspoken advocate against apartheid and used his stage plays as a vehicle to reflect the resilience of black South Africans under the regime.

In honour of Ngema’s legacy, KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube has expressed her gratitude to President Cyril Ramaphosa for granting the internationally acclaimed playwright, composer, director and theatre producer the special funeral.

A special provincial official funeral category 2 includes elements of police ceremonial honours, and is “reserved for distinguished persons specifically designated by the president of South Africa on request by the premier of a province”.

“We welcome the respect bestowed upon Dr Ngema by the president. This is indeed a befitting honour to Madlokovu, who worked tirelessly for many decades to put South Africa on the global pedestal through art,” said Dube-Ncube.

“Armed only with his creativity and theatre, he confronted the brutal apartheid regime, in the process conscientizing the world about the ruthless and dehumanizing nature of apartheid.

“Madlokovu used his vast networks abroad to focus the attention of the world to the suffering of our people in this country under apartheid. He pencilled an indelible mark on our journey towards freedom” she concluded.

According to eNCA, Ngema’s official funeral will be held on Friday. His family will announce further burial details.

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