WATCH: Funeral of legendary playwright Mbongeni Ngema underway

The late Mbongeni Ngema. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archives.

The late Mbongeni Ngema. Picture: Independent Newspapers Archives.

Published Jan 5, 2024


Legendary playwright Mbongeni Ngema's funeral service is currently underway at the Durban International Convention Centre (Durban ICC).

Ngema, 68, was killed in a head-on car accident while returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape on December 27, 2023.

Shortly after his death, the actor’s family issued an official statement to confirm the sad news.

“It is with heavy hearts that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved brother, father, husband, and patriot, Mbongeni Ngema,” the statement read.

His memorial service was held on Wednesday, January 3 at The Playhouse in Durban where industry colleagues and friends took to the stage to pay tribute to the award-winning lyricist.

Born in Verulam, Ngema’s – or Madlokovu as he was affectionately referred to by his clan name – work was internationally acclaimed.

He received Tony Award nominations for “Asinamali” and “Sarafina!”.

Ngema also received Grammy Award nominations for his work in “Sarafina!” and “The Lion King”.

In honour of his legacy, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government granted a special provincial official funeral category 2.

In a statement, KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube expressed her gratitude to President Cyril Ramaphosa for granting Ngema a special provincial official funeral.

The special provincial official funeral category 2, which includes elements of police ceremonial honours, is “reserved for distinguished people specifically designated by the president of South Africa on request from the premier of a province”.

Dube-Ncube said Ngema distinguished himself as a true South African legend, who used creative art and theatre to contribute to the fight for freedom.