Yahto Kraft and Itu Sings. Picture: Supplied
Sunday marked the start of the most excruciating phase of The Voice South Africa – the ferocious Battles. 

The show’s four coaches – Riky Rick, Riana Nel, Lira and Francois van Coke  - are now forced to pair up the members of their own team and pit them against each with the same song. The winner of this vocal showdown – which is definitely not a duet but a vocal fight of note – then proceeds to the next round, The Voice SA’s Lives, during which the voting public have all the say. 

Unfortunately, during the Battles only one of the two singers can remain in the competition. There are no Saves and no Steals and the decision is solely in the hands of the coach who groomed the talent. 

To prepare their talent for the Battles, the coaches pull out all the stops.  They even bring in professional help to up the skills of their teams. Lira leafed through her address book of showbiz friends and roped in Ross Learmouth, the lead singer of the multi-platinum-selling South African rock band Prime Circle. 

Riky Rick selected a South African superstar with intimate knowledge of singing competitions as his co-coach, singer-songwriter, composer, arranger, and multi-instrumentalist Khaya Mthethwa. Francois van Coke asked Durban-born indie-folk singer and songwriter and frequent collaborator Majozi to be his co-coach. And Riana Nel selected Afrikaans inspirational rocker and heart-throb Joe Black to teach her talent how to wow an audience. 

In the end, Sunday’s Battles were won by Krista Jones, Amy Tjasink, Daniel Jay, Lelo Ramisong and Yahto Kraft. 

These five incredible vocalists will thus continue their Voice SA journey at the Lives, to be held at the Mosaïek Teatro in Fairlands, Johannesburg.

In her first Battle for the evening, Lira pitched Krista Jonas (29) against fellow Capetonian Petro De Villiers (36) with Irene Cara’s hit “Fame”, from the movie of the same name. The Afro-chic songbird later had to make another incredibly difficult choice when two more strong  singers Yahto Kraft (18) from Alberton and  Itu Sings (37) from Saulsville, Pretoria, were fighting it out with the U2 anthem “Pride”. 

In #TeamRiky Rick Amy Tjasink (26), who was concerned that she was getting too squeaky in the song, beat Joshua Parker (19) from Fourways, Johannesburg, when they performed  the Marshmelo hit “Happier”. 
 
Coach Francois van Coke had to choose between Daniel Jay (23) from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town songbird Nikita Williams (25), singing “Human”, from the British superstar Rag ‘n’ Bone Man.  

And Riana Nel pitched Lelo Ramasimong (33) from Johannesburg against 23-year-old Ilan van Staden from Krugersdorp for yet another unforgettable showdown – and difficult decision. 

While Sunday’s Battle winners will all appear in the Lives, "The Voice SA" host Anele Mdoda also announced which singers from the KnockOut Rounds were saved by the fans in the Strepsils Knockout Viewers’ Save. : Carmen Basson (19) from Kroonstad was saved in #Team Lira ; Katlego Makgotlwe (23) from Vosloorus in #TeamRiky;  Soné Joubert (27) from Gordon’s Bay in #TeamRiana; and Ashur Petersen (26) from Cape Town in #TeamFrancois.

The Battles continue to rage on The Voice South Africa next Sunday, 5 May.

The Voice South Africa premieres on M-Net 101 every Sunday at 17:30 and is repeated on VUZU, Channel 116, on Mondays at 20:00. It also be available on DStv CatchUp.