KZN government wants Cyril Ramaphosa to give Joseph Shabalala an official state funeral

“Bab'Shabalala was a global icon, hence the MEC and premier's office believe he deserves an official funeral”

14 February 2020 - 18:00 By Masego Seemela
Joseph Shabalala, the founder of Grammy award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died on Tuesday morning. A request has been lodged to give the musican a state funeral.
Joseph Shabalala, the founder of Grammy award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died on Tuesday morning. A request has been lodged to give the musican a state funeral.
Image: Gallo Images

The KwaZulu-Natal MEC for arts and culture, Hlengiwe Mavimbela, is requesting a state funeral for Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder Joseph Shabalala.

Shabalala died on Tuesday morning at Life Eugene Marais Hospital in Tshwane at the age of 78, after a long illness.

Speaking to TshisaLIVE, Phathisa Msuyo, spokesperson for the MEC, said Hlengiwe was requested by the premier's office to visit and engage with the family.

“They then asked us to approach the national government with an official funeral request. Bab'Shabalala was a global icon, hence the MEC and premier's office believe he deserves  an official funeral.” 

Phathisa said the funeral is set to take place on February 22 in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal.

Phathisa said she was following up on the letter they wrote to the national government as Shabalala deserved a decent funeral.

In a statement provided to TshisaLIVE, the MEC said: “We will remember Mshengu as a lonely voice that advocated against women abuse when he composed and sang songs like Isigcino uyosala wedwa yisekaThoko ngob’uyangishaya.”

Hlengiwe said as a department, they had lost a self-appointed ambassador of social cohesion who took responsibility and sang “ngeke bayiqede, Nginethemba” when political violence was at its peak in the 1990s.

“We salute Mshengu for passing the music baton to his children to continue his legac,y and wish all musicians can take a leaf from Mshengu’s life.” 

When contacted for comment, President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokesperson, Khusela Diko, told TshisaLIVE the president had been busy with the State of the Nation address but will check whether they have received the letter.

“I will check on receipt of the letter and once the president has reached a decision, we will let you know.” 


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