Gone too soon: Sudden deaths that shocked the nation

Johannesburg- It’s been a sombre year as Covid-19 and other incidents robbed us of some of South Africa’s most inspirational individuals.

One of the country’s most admired couples, Connie and Shona Ferguson would have celebrated their 20th anniversary on November 30. However, Shona passed away in July at the age of 47, almost a month after being diagnosed with Covid-19 and being admitted to Netcare Milpark Hospital, Johannesburg.

Though Connie regularly lets out her feelings on her social media platforms, she told
Sunday World that she was not in the right space yet to speak of his death to the media.

Other big shocks were the deaths of Dr. Sindi van Zyl, Jacana Media publisher Nadia Goetham, and chef Lesego Semenya, who were also diagnosed with Covid-19.

Van Zyl, who fondly referred to herself as the “Duchess of Healing”, died at the age of 45 in April.

She was admitted to hospital in February after struggling to breathe and citizens rallied to raise almost R1.5-million to help her husband, Marinus van Zyl, cover her medical costs. Van Zyl was a former Kaya FM host.

Goetham died in April, also of Covid-19-related complications. Her death was swift and many people were in disbelief. One of them was celebrity chef Semenya, popularly known as LesDaChef, who published a bestseller titled
Dijo with Goetham. But hardly three months later, Semenya, 39, also succumbed to complications related to Covid-19.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu tested positive for the Covid-19 in January and died 10 days later.

Days after the death of Mthembu, another legend Sibongile Khumalo died at the age of 63. Khumalo was known as “The First Lady of Song”, a name given to her by former president Nelson Mandela after she performed at his inauguration. Her family reported she had had a long illness and that stroke caused her death.

Covid-19 also robbed us of musical giant Steve Kekana, who died in July.


Kekana, who was also an advocate and had worked as a part-time lecturer at the University of South Africa for eight years, lost his sight at the age of five, but that did not stop him from becoming an award-winning musician and lawyer.

Lesotho-born Tsepo Tshola, popularly known as the Village Pope, died in July from Covid-19 complications. The Holokile hitmaker had toured the world with other musical greats such as Hugh Masekela.

Another loss to the music industry was jazz legend Jonas Gwangwa, who died at the age of 83 in January due to cardiac complications.

South Africa’s new kings of amapiano, Sakhile Hlatshwayo, better known as Killer Kau, and Mongezi Stuurman, known as Mpura, died in a car crash on their way to a gig in Rustenburg, North West, in August.

Thespians who were taken away from us include Luzuko Nteleko, Menzi Ngubane, Nokuzola Mlengana, Shaleen Surtie-Richards, Noxolo Maqashalala, Sam Phillips, Lindiwe Ndlovu, and screenwriter and creator of Egoli Franz Marx.

Former Kaizer Chiefs player Lucky Maselesele was beaten to death in Alexandra in October, while former Sundowns spokesperson Thulani Thuswa died in a car crash in June.

Johannesburg lost two mayors this year. Jolidee Matongo died tragically in a car crash in September.

His predecessor, Geoff Makhubo, who served as mayor for only one year, died in July from Covid-19 complications.

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