Cape Town – Former “South Africa’s Got Talent” winner James Bhemgee, 57 has died in hospital after a short illness, sources close to the family have confirmed.
The former street sweeper and unemployed tenor rose to stardom when he won the talent competition in 2010 with his velvety voice.
Tributes for the singer continue to pour in on social media from industry colleagues and friends.
“Rest sweetly brother … your voice will forever ring in my heart. Your race is done. You made many hearts smile with your talent and charm.” – Alistair Izobell/Facebook.
“R. I. P James Bhemgee What shocking news. Was great to had the opportunity to share the stage with you a beautiful soul left the stage. My condolences to the family and friends.” – Zahier Zaza Abrahams/Facebook.
Another Facebook user wrote: “Oh no!!! I knew him as a little girl … he used to pick up our dirt in Salt River then got to work with him at Artscape … he truly lived his purpose in this life. Condolences to all his loved ones. May his beautiful soul rest in peace … I can almost hear him singing with the angels.”
According to hdsentertainment.co.za, he was first discovered on the streets of Cape Town by a woman who overheard him singing while he was working as a street sweeper.
She was so impressed that she paid for Bhemgee to have singing lessons.
James has also performed with international Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins and was part of the South African leg of Andre Rieu’s tour with his Johann Strauss Orchestra.
After winning “SA’s Got Talent”, James said: “For 13 years I’ve been unemployed. Those 13 years were the hardest part of my life. I didn’t have opportunities to sing but I never gave up on my dream. I survived. I went through very tough times but I was and I am a believer.”
James Bhemgee released his debut album titled “Vincero” in November 2011.
He made headlines in 2020, when the Daily Voice reported that the local singer was arrested for allegedly kidnapping and raping a Grade 10 schoolgirl.
Cape singer James Bhemgee charged for raping Grade 10 schoolgirl https://t.co/8lVrPgjTwd— IOL News (@IOL) April 7, 2020
According to the Daily Voice report, Bhemgee and the female cousin of his alleged victim appeared briefly in court where they were released on a warning.