The deaths of celebrities Akhumzi Jezile, Thobani Mseleni, Siyasanga Kobese and former Orlando Pirates midfielder Bheka Phakathi have sent shock waves through the creative and sports industries.
A fourth victim, Skhumbuzo Mbuthuma, who was travelling with the first three, was also killed. He was an IT specialist at Urban Brew Studios. The fifth person in the vehicle had not yet been identified by Sunday night.
Police spokesperson Captain Namhla Mdleleni said the accident took place on the N6 in the Eastern Cape, between Jamestown and Queenstown. The group were on their way to a funeral. The occupants of the other vehicle were not injured and the police have opened a case of culpable homicide.
Jezile was an award-winning actor, presenter and producer on YoTV on SABC1. Percy Vilakazi, spokesperson for the Jezile family, said they were devastated by the loss.
“He was the life of the party, love personified, and when someone like that is snatched away it leaves everyone with a great sense of sadness and emotional paralysis.”
Mseleni was an up-and-coming actor. Kobese was most recognised as the lead singer of Joyous Celebration. Kobese’s father, pastor Norman Kobese, said he recognised the body of his daughter by her feet.
“I went to the scene," he said. "I couldn’t stay there. Not even for an hour. It was bad. From there we went to the forensics. All of them had injuries on their heads. All of them. My daughter, I recognised her feet. She was my daughter, she grew up with us. So when I saw her feet I knew it was her. I didn’t need to see the rest of her.”
Minister of arts and culture Nathi Mthethwa called the three “lodestars” of the South African arts and culture industry.
“The nation has been dealt a triple and breathtaking blow that has sent a wave of grief throughout South Africa," Mthethwa said. "All three were young, brilliant shining stars from whom we’d have undoubtedly derived joy and delight from their long careers and lives.”
YoTV said it was “tremendously saddened by the passing of Jezile, who was the series director and producer. He was the fibre and soul of YoTV and will be sorely missed by us all. Lala ngoxolo buthi.”
The SABC also sent condolences to the Jezile family, and friends and fans of Akhumzi.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to the Jezile family," the corporation said, "for allowing Akhumzi to be part of the great men and women who have dedicated their lives to using their time to keep South African educated, informed and educated through their talent.”
'We have lost a fighter and a great coach'
Meanwhile, the sports fraternity are mourning the death of Phakathi, who was head coach of KwaZulu-Natal’s Umvoti Football Club. He died in a car accident near Greytown on Sunday. Umvoti general manager Bongani Msomi said Phakathi had joined the team last season.
“He turned things around and helped us win the ABC Motsepe League in the KZN 2018/2019 season," Msomi said. "He won more than 20 games, lost one and drew four.
"He made a huge difference since he started as our coach. It is sad because we were preparing for the national play-offs to be held in Polokwane next month.”
Phakathi also played for Lamontville Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United. He was also the assistant coach of Royal Eagles and was Ukhozi FM’s football analyst.
Orlando Pirates said they were saddened by Phakathi’s passing.
“Phakathi, who played for the Mighty Buccaneers between 2002 and 2005, was coaching the ABC Motsepe outfit Umvoti at the time of his passing,” the club said.
Another motorist was killed on the Muiskraal Road in Carletonville when his vehicle overturned several times. The second occupant was critically injured.