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The name of Enoch Sontonga, the composer of South Africa's national anthem, has been used by publishers to collect false royalties on Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica, according to the City Press on Sunday.

The state had not protected its ownership of the anthem from commercial gain by others, the newspaper reported.

Much of the anthem consisted of a rearrangement of Sontonga's hymn, and it was known by the same name. Sontonga was deceased and his hymn was in the public domain.

Any musician was able to rearrange Sontonga's song and collect royalties for their version.

An estimated R100 million a year was made in royalties collected by the music industry on the song, according to City Press.

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) had paid a local publisher for a rearrangement of the song.

Sontonga was listed as the composer and author and 33 percent of the royalties were to be paid to him.

According to the newspaper, it was unclear where this money would go. - Sapa