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Farewell to Lebohang Khitsane, the man behind SA’s ostentatious tombstone designs

Lebohang Khitsane, the man behind Bataung Memorial Tombstones has died. Picture: Supplied.

Lebohang Khitsane, the man behind Bataung Memorial Tombstones has died. Picture: Supplied.

Published Aug 28, 2020


Johannesburg - A township entrepreneur who cast his legacy in tombstones as he sought to ensure dignity for celebrities and ordinary people in their final resting place.

This was how Lebohang Khitsane’s family wanted the Katlehong-born businessman to be remembered following his passing on Thursday from renal failure at an Ekurhuleni hospital.

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Khitsane, who once told The Star that he wanted to be remembered as “the Steve Jobs of tombstones”, began his Bataung Legacy business in 2004 in the historic East Rand township, and grew it to eventually manufacture and deliver more than 20000 tombstones across the African continent and Australia.

Bataung became renowned across Africa for its ostentatious designs, especially for well-known personalities, such as legendary performers Joe Mafela, Mandoza and Robbie Malinga, kwaito star Senyaka, soccer player John Shoes Moshoeu and boxer Baby Jake Matlala, among others.

On Thursday The Star visited the Khitsane family who said that the businessman’s legacy would not falter with his death.

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“Lebo (as he was affectionately known) believed in building legacies; the businesses will continue to operate without him at the helm. There are capable and dedicated leaders across the Bataung group. The family has and continues to be hands on in the business together with the dedicated staff that worked alongside Lebohang,” the family added.

Lebogang Khitsane made tombstones for the likes of Joe Mafela, Mandoza and Roby Malinga amongst others. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency(ANA)

Born and raised in Katlehong, Khitsane was committed and embedded in his community with his philanthropy where he gave back through many initiatives, including funding underprivileged university students, giving out food hampers to over 1000 Katlehong families every December, and hosting events for the elderly and orphanages. He also donated tombstones and funds for the funerals of the less privileged.

His family stressed that, even though the grief was fresh, Khitsane’s philanthropy would not end.

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“Lebo was a community leader, a dedicated father and husband. His legacy is in the lives he touched in the preservation of their loved one’s. His annual charity drives brought joy to many elderly in the East Rand. His giving spirit was always available to assist a family in need,” the family said.

“Through Bataung Legacy he has honoured global icons and leaders such as Kenneth Kaunda, Dapper Dan, Nelson Mandela, P Diddy just to name a few. He is one person who worked and played hard, his family have lost their beacon.”

Last year he went to America and handed over a statue to P Diddy and then another of 2Pac Shakur which he handed to West Coast rapper The Game. During that trip Khitsane also visited cemeteries in New York.

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Khitsane is survived by his wife and children.

In his own words as to why he developed flamboyant tombstones: “I’m innovative, I’m passionate. I love what I do and I’m the best! I want to be known as the Steve Jobs of the tombstone industry.”

The Star

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