Pretoria - Family, friends, industry players and residents flocked to the Block M, Soshanguve, home of Matwetwe actor Sibusiso Khwinana, 25, who was stabbed to death during an apparent robbery on Friday night.
Cast members and producers of the hit movie, shot in Atteridgeville and released in January, which has already clocked up 3 million viewers, trickled in as the distraught family began preparations for the funeral, scheduled for Saturday.
Hours after the murder, the family were inconsolable and asked to be given time to grieve, but on Sunday they opened up about the actor, who they said was committed to his craft.
“It is painful that we lost him now, unexpectedly and senselessly. We are devastated, but it is a journey we will walk to accept this,” his cousin, Khalo Khwinana, said.
“He was a respectful child who never hesitated to apologise if he wronged someone. Anything sinister is not Sibusiso. Anything he does he does with a good heart and noble intentions. He was passionate about his work.”
When Matwetwe hit the big screen in January, Khwinana, the father of a 4-year-old girl, took his whole family to the opening night at Sterland Mall in Arcadia, Khalo Khwinana recalled.
While waiting for transport in Arcadia, Khwinana was stabbed in the chest by robbers who took his cellphone. They stabbed him when he tried to fight back. He was with his friend Papi, real name Tebatso Mashishi, who starred alongside him in the film.
No arrests had been made by late Sunday and a case of murder and robbery was being investigated by the police, who said they would leave no stone unturned in their search for the perpetrators.
“It is alleged that he and his friend were at the corner of Pretorius and Steve Biko streets when he was accosted by the suspects, who demanded his cellphone. As they were wrestling for the cellphone, he was allegedly stabbed with a sharp object in the upper body.
"He was certified dead on the scene,” police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo said.
Khwinana, who played the role of the shy Lefa in the film, died about 11pm.
Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa joined thousands of people across the country in expressing shock and sadness.
He described Khwinana as “the pride of Soshanguve”, saying the country had lost a great talent.
“We are devastated to learn of the tragic and untimely passing of the celebrated actor, whose talent was demonstrated in his performance in the box office hit Matwetwe. He was also a founding member of the Independent Theatre Makers Movement,” the minister said.
DJ Black Coffee, real name Nkosinathi Maphumulo and executive producer of Matwetwe, also expressed shock and outrage. “What a loss. How long will it take for us to realise we have a crime problem as a country? How many people must die before we do something? Who must we trust to protect us and our families who must we vote for?” he posted on social media.
What a loss!!!! How long will it take for us to realize we have a crime problem as country,how many people must die before we do something.Who must we trust to protect us and our Families,who must we vote for?#ripsbupic.twitter.com/461PvICnZt
The South African State Theatre management said crime had robbed the country of a great talent. “We have been privileged with a front-seat view of Khwinana’s rise to greatness and his life as a performer and storyteller.
“We were expecting to see and experience more from him, but crime untimely robbed us of that dream when he had just encountered the biggest break in his career of being cast in our country’s biggest film, Matwetwe.
“Khwinana will be greatly missed in our corridors, rehearsals, dressing rooms and theatres as a hard-working, high-spirited storyteller who never stopped pushing. In 2016 he was among a few selected creatives to be given an opportunity to showcase works under our development programme, the Incubator Programme."