Memorable names and faces we have lost this year

By Greg Hutson Time of article published Dec 31, 2020

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January 3: Senior Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, 62, in a US drone strike, which prompts fears of war between the US and Iran.

January 5: Danny Oosthuizen, 50, Cape Argus columnist, pancreatic cancer.

January 6: Richard Maponya, 99, South African property developer, owner of Maponya Mall.

January 17: Yousuf Deedat, 66, prominent Muslim scholar and community activist, shot.

January 18: Steve Fataar, 76, legendary Durban guitarist and singer, of complications from a lung infection.

January 22: Monty Python star Terry Jones, 77.

January 25: Ip Ching, 83, Chinese martial artist. He was one of five living grandmasters of the Ip Man (Yip Man) family of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

January 26: Kobe Bryant, 41, basketball player, considered by many to be the best player of his generation, and Oscar winner (2018). Helicopter crash.

January 27: Santu Mofokeng, 64, South African photographer, of progressive supranuclear palsy.


February 2: “Mad” Mike Hoare, 100, renowned British mercenary leader

February 4: Daniel arap Moi, 95, former Kenyan president.

February 5: Kirk Douglas, 103, American actor, and honorary Oscar winner (1996).

February 7: Harold “Jock” Strachan, 94, writer and anti-apartheid activist, perhaps best remembered for his dramatic exposé of the appalling jail conditions” of black prisoners. Complications from liver disease.

Joseph Shabalala. 78. Founder of Isicathamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Picture: Instagram

February 11: Musician Joseph Shabalala. 78. Founder of Isicathamiya group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

February 16: John Liebenberg, 61, South African photojournalist, complications from surgery.

February 16: Larry Tesler. Cut, copy and paste computer scientist, 74. His innovations helped make the personal computer simple to learn and use.

February 24: Journalist Shaun Johnson 60, one of South African journalism’s most colourful characters, and Mandela Rhodes Foundation founding chief executive. Cause of death: oesophageal rupture.

February 25: Hosni Mubarak, 91, Egyptian military officer and president.


March 4: Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, 100, Peruvian prime minister and UN secretary-general.

March 12: Wolfgang Hofmann, 78, German judoka, Olympic silver medallist (1964).

March 17: Roger Mayweather, 58, American boxer and boxing trainer, WBA super featherweight (1983–1984) and WBC super lightweight champion (1987–1989).

March 20: Country music legend Kenny Rogers, 81, one of the best-selling music artists of all time (“Islands in the Stream”, “The Gambler”).

March 21: Hotel magnate Sol Kerzner, 84, cancer.

March 24 Terence McNally, 81, four-time Tony Award winner, playwright and screenwriter. Covid-19

March 24: William Dufris, 62, American voice actor (“Bob the Builder”), cancer.

March 24: Alberto Uderzo, 92, French comic book artist and scriptwriter. Best known as the co-creator and illustrator of the Astérix series. Heart attack.

Credo Mutwa, sangoma and author, 98.

March 25: Credo Mutwa, sangoma and author, 98.

March 25: Robert Levinson, American intelligence officer, missing since 2007.

March 26: Princess María Teresa of Bourbon-Parma, 86, Spanish royal, Covid-19.


April 1: Tony Lewis, 78, English mathematician, co-inventor of cricket's Duckworth–Lewis–Stern method.

April 1: Harold Rubin, 87, South African-born Israeli jazz clarinettist.

April 3 General Constand Viljoen, 86, military commander and politician. Partly credited with preventing the outbreak of armed violence by disaffected white South Africans prior to post-apartheid general elections. Considered a traitor who had sold out the Afrikaner people.

April 5: Lee Fierro, 91, American actress (Jaws), Covid-19.

April 6: Black the Ripper, 32, British grime MC, rapper and cannabis activist. Heart attack

April; 8: Jackie du Preez, 77, Zimbabwean cricketer (Rhodesia, South Africa).

April 12 Sir Stirling Moss, 90, British Hall of Fame racing driver.

April 14: Paul Bayvel, 71, rugby union player (Transvaal, Springboks), cancer.

April 17: Allan Heyl, 69, bank robber and last surviving member of the Stander Gang.

Denis Goldberg, 87, Rivonia treason trial accused. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

April 29: Denis Goldberg, 87, Rivonia treason trial accused, lung cancer.

April 29: Irrfan Khan, 53, Bollywood actor and Slumdog Millionaire star, who died after being admitted to hospital with a colon infection.


May 5: Millie Small, 72, stroke. Singer of 1964’s huge hit My Boy Lollipop, which helped introduce ska music to the rest of the world and opened the door to the sounds of Jamaica.

May 7: William Clark, 101, British Royal Air Force officer (The Few - one of those who fought in the Battle of Britain).

May 9: Little Richard, 87, American Hall of Fame rock and roll singer (Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Lucille), pianist and songwriter, bone cancer.

May 11: Ewie Cronje, 80, South African cricketer.

May 13: Malibongwe Gcwabe, 55, South African gospel singer, complications from asthma.

May 13: Shobushi Kanji, 28, Japanese sumo wrestler, Covid-19.

May 16: Wilson Roosevelt Jerman, 91, White House butler. Complications due to Covid-19. He was one of the White House’s longest serving employees (1957–2012).

May 19: Mary-Anne Plaatjies van Huffel, 60, SA pastor and academic, complications from surgery.

May 28: George Floyd, 46, American police detainee, asphyxia. His death at the hands of police officers sparked international outrage and condemnation.


June 3: Jeanne Goosen, 81, award-winning South African writer of poetry, short stories and children’s books.

June 5: Tomisaku Kawasaki, 95, Japanese paediatrician, discoverer of Kawasaki disease.

June 8: Pierre Nkurunziza, 55, Burundian politician, president (since 2005). Heart attack.

Kirvan Fortuin, 28, South African dancer and choreographer and LGBT activist.

June 13 Kirvan Fortuin, 28, South African dancer and choreographer and LGBT activist. Stabbed.

June 14: Elsa Joubert, 97, South African Sestiger (influential dissident Afrikaans writers of the 1960s), Covid-19.

June 18: Dame Vera Lynn, 103, renowned British singer (We'll Meet Again, The White Cliffs of Dover).

June 23: Lawrence Chelin, 61, footballer (Durban City), leukaemia.

June 24: Professor Nigel Weiss, 83, South African mathematician.

June 25: Joe Sinnott, 93, American Hall of Fame comic book artist (The Avengers, Thor, Fantastic Four).

June 26: Katrin Beinroth, 38, German judoka, European open class champion (2003). Died in her sleep.

June 26: Milton Glaser, 91, American graphic designer, creator of the I ❤ NY slogan and co-founder of New York magazine. Stroke and renal failure.

June 26: Tami Lynn, 78, American soul singer.

June 30: David Lewis, 98, SA-born American urban designer, co-founder of Urban Design Associates.


July 1: Sir Everton Weekes, 95, Barbadian cricket star and racial pioneer who featured prominently for the West Indies. Together with the other two members of West Indian cricket’s Three Ws – Clyde Walcott and Sir Frank Worrell – he changed the face of cricket in the West Indies and also the world. No cause of death was specified, but he had been in poor health since having a heart attack in 2019.

July 1: George Hallett, 78, South African photographer. Died in his sleep after a long illness.

July 3: Rubble, world’s oldest cat, 31 – the equivalent of 150 human years. The British Main Coon had no specific health issues, but became very thin and died of old age.

Mary Twala, 80, actress (Life, Above All, Beat the Drum, Sarafina!)

July 4: Mary Twala, 80, actress (Life, Above All, Beat the Drum, Sarafina!), mother of SA actor and media personality Somizi Mhlongo, diabetes.

July 4: Ronnie and Donnie Galyon, 68. The world’s oldest surviving conjoined twins.

July 6: Ennio Morricone, 91, Italian film composer (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West, The Hateful Eight), Oscar winner (2016), complications from a fall.

July 6: Zithulele Patrick Mvemve, 79, Roman Catholic prelate, Auxiliary Bishop of Johannesburg and Bishop of Klerksdorp.

July 6: Gordon Kegakilwe, 53, South African politician, Covid-19.

July 6: Ricardo Mthembu, 50, politician, ANC KZN spokesperson and former KwaDukuza mayor, Covid-19.

July 7: Henry Jansen, 64, politician, mayor of Langeberg, Covid-19.

July 8 Amadou Gon Coulibaly, 61, Ivorian politician, prime minister. Heart complications.

July 8: Louis Mazibuko, 69, respected sports journalist. Died in hospital after a short illness.

July 9: Patricia Majalisa, 53, known as South Africa’s 80s disco music queen. Died in hospital after a short illness.

July 10: Corra Dirksen, 82, rugby player (Northern Transvaal, national team), Covid-19.

July 8: Pinkie Mtshali, 50, theatre personality. Heart attack.

July 10: Former Fifa world cup winner, Jack Charlton, 85, (Leeds United, England) and Republic of Ireland manager, of lymphoma and dementia.

July 12: Actress Kelly Preston, 57, the wife of actor John Travolta. She lost a two-year battle with breast cancer.

July 12: Alfred Mtsi, 69, politician, former mayor of Buffalo City (East London), Covid-19.

Zindzi Mandela, 59, politician and diplomat and youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela

July 13: Zindzi Mandela, 59, politician and diplomat and youngest daughter of Nelson Mandela. Covid-19

July 17: Derek Ho, 55, American surfer, 1993 world champion, heart attack.

July 18: Ismail “Baboo” Ebrahim, 73, cricketer (Natal).

July 18: Martha Mmola, politician and MP (2014–2019), Covid-19.

July 18: Elize Cawood, 68, actress (“Dis Ek, Anna”), lung cancer.

July 20: Respected rugby personality Paul Dobson, 84. The father of current Stormers coach John Dobson, he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of SA Rugby. Covid-19.

July 21: England Grand Slam rugby centre Mike Slemen, 69, who toured South Africa as a member of Billy Beaumont’s 1980 British and Irish Lions team. Former Daily News sports editor Reg Sweet called him: “unquestionably the most talented all-rounder of all”.

July 21: Andrew Mlangeni, 95, last of the Rivonia Trial co-defendants. Died in hospital after suffering an abdominal complaint.

July 25: Peter Green, 73, English Hall of Fame blues rock singer-songwriter (“Black Magic Woman”), guitarist and co-founder of supergroup Fleetwood Mac. Died in his sleep.

July 26: Dame Olivia de Havilland, 104, French-British-American actress (“Gone with the Wind”, “The Adventures of Robin Hood”, “To Each His Own”), double Oscar winner.

July 28: Candy Moloi, 67, actress (“Muvhango”), cancer.

July 29: Andy Haden, 69, New Zealand rugby union player (Auckland, All Blacks), chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.

July 31: Zamuxolo Peter, 55, South African MP (since 2019), Covid-19.


August 3: SA judo champion and would-be Olympian Preston Davids, 29. Stabbed in Bellville

Bob Mabena, 51, South African radio host and composer. Picture: Instagram

August 10: Bob Mabena, 51, South African radio host and composer, heart attack.

August 12: Mac Jack, 55, Northern Cape MPL (since 2013), Covid-19.

August 26: Stuart Hailstone, 68, South African squash player, stroke.

August 27: Vejaynand Ramlakan, 62, Surgeon General of the South African Military Health Service, heart attack.

August 28: Chadwick Boseman, 43, actor, best known for playing the lead role in the movie “Black Panther”. Lost a four-year battle with colon cancer.


September 4: Gregory de Vink, 22, South African racing cyclist, motorcycle accident.

September 4: Peter Cronjé, 70, Springbok, Transvaal and Natal rugby centre, cancer.

September 5: Thandeka Mdeliswa, 34, actress (“Generations: The Legacy”, “Isidingo”, “Rhythm City”). Shot.

Achmat Dangor, 71, author and political activist. Picture:Sizwe Ndingane

September 6: Achmat Dangor, 71, author and political activist. Brother of deputy secretary-general of the ANC, Jessie Duarte.

September 8: David Clatworthy, 60, actor (“The Making of the Mahatma”, “District 9”).

September 8: South African-born Oscar-winning screenwriter, Sir Ronald Harwood, 85, (“The Pianist”, “The Dresser”, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”).

September 9: George Bizos, 92, Rivonia Treason Trial defence lawyer and anti-apartheid activist.

September 9: Edgard Tupët-Thomé, 100, French Resistance fighter.

September 10: Dame Diana Rigg, 82, English actress (“The Avengers”, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “Game of Thrones”). Cancer.

September 19: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, American jurist, Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court. Complications from pancreatic cancer.

September 21: Brian Peterson, 83, footballer (Blackpool, Durban United, Durban City).

September 29: Mac Davis, 78, American singer-songwriter (“Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me”, “It’s Hard to Be Humble”). Complications from heart surgery.

September 29: Helen Reddy, 78, Australian-American singer, Grammy winner and actress.

September 29: Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, 91, Kuwaiti royal, emir and prime minister.

September 30: SP Balasubrahmanyam, 74, Indian singer, Guinness World Record holder for recording the highest number of songs (over 40 000 in multiple languages).


October 2: Irina Slavina, 47, Russian news editor (Open Russia), suicide by self-immolation.

October 6: Johnny Nash, 80, American singer-songwriter (“I Can See Clearly Now”, “Hold Me Tight”, “Tears on My Pillow”).

October 6: Eddie van Halen, 65, Dutch-born American rock musician and songwriter (“Eruption”, “Jump"). Throat cancer.

October 10: Priscilla Jana, 76, human rights lawyer and key anti-apartheid figure.

October 14: Herbert Kretzmer, 95, South African-born English journalist and lyricist (“Les Misérables”).

October 22: Stephen Gray, 78, South African writer (“Time of Our Darkness”). Died after a short illness.

October 30: Robert Fisk, 74, English writer and journalist (The Independent). Journalist who frequently shone a light on Western abuses in the Middle East, and who is remembered for interviewing Osama bin Laden.

October 31: Sir Sean Connery, 90, the tough Scottish actor who played the quintessential British spy, 007. It was he who was the first to utter the famous line: “The name’s Bond ... James Bond.” Died in his sleep.


November 10: Graham Cowdrey, 56, English cricketer (Kent). Died after a short illness.

November 11: Mongameli Bobani, 52, politician, mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Covid-19.

November 13: Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, 74, English serial killer, complications from Covid-19.

November 17: Vincent Reffet, 36, French BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer and jetpack pilot, training accident.

November 19: “Queen of Kwaito”, Mshoza, 37, complications from diabetes.

November 23: David Dinkins, 93, US politician, mayor of New York City.

November 23: Right-back Calvin Anele Ngcongca, 33. Bafana Bafana. Died in a car accident on the N2 near Mtunzini, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

Diego Maradona, 60, Argentinian World Cup-winning footballer – hailed by many as the greatest ever.

November 25: Diego Maradona, 60, Argentinian World Cup-winning footballer – hailed by many as the greatest ever. Heart attack.

November 28: David Prowse, 85, the physically imposing actor behind the mask of Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Died in hospital after a short illness.


December 2: Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, 94, politician, president of France. Covid-19.

December 7: Chuck Yeager, 97, US test pilot, first person to exceed the speed of sound. He was portrayed by Sam Shepard in the movie “The Right Stuff”.

December 7: Pumza Dyantyi, 72, politician and anti-apartheid activist and member of the National Assembly.

December 7: Theatre legend Dawn Lindberg, 75, one half of the Des and Dawn Lindberg music phenomenon. Founder of the Naledi Theatre Awards. Covid-related complications.

December 9: Gordon Forbes, 86, South African tennis player, Covid-19.

December 12: Espionage writer John le Carre, 89, who drew upon his experiences as a British intelligence officer with MI5 and MI6. Pneumonia.

December 18: Tim Severin, 80, British explorer, historian and writer.

Robin Jackman, 75, English cricketer and commentator. Died at his home in Cape Town. Picture Alan Taylor

December 25: Robin Jackman, 75, English cricketer (Surrey, Rhodesia, England) and commentator. Died at his home in Cape Town.

December 26: George Blake, 98, the British spy and double agent who exposed hundreds of Western agents and settled in the Soviet Union after escaping from jail.

December 26: Nomvuzo Shabalala, 60. MP and former eThekwini deputy mayor, Covid-19.

December 29: Pierre Cardin, 98, French-Italian fashion designer. Known for his avant-garde style and Space Age designs and, in the 1970s, set the trend of “mod chic”.

Compiled by The Historian

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