Prominent South Africans, including traditional leaders, have mounted a call for popular Umhlobo Wenene FM DJ, Saba Mbixane, 54, to be given a provincial funeral.
Mbixane promoted traditional music and was an ambassador for the Eastern Cape.
He died from head injuries early on Thursday after crashing his bike on February 9, apparently after trying to avoid low-flying vultures.
The call was made at the opening of the House of Traditional Leaders yesterday by the leader of the house, Mnoneleli Ranuga.
“Zaw Zaw” or DJ Napkin, with his trademark voice, celebrated his 30th year behind the microphone.
Saba’s uncle, Sidima, said his nephew would be buried in Mandileni village outside Mount Frere next Sunday, but the date still had to be finalised.
The respected “giant of the airwaves” notched up a string of achievements topped by winning the South African Traditional Music Awards four years in a row from 2011 to 2014.
Fans, colleagues and politicians mourned the loss of a superb broadcaster, businessman and farmer. calling him an “icon, hero, patriot” and “pillar” of indigenous music.
In Berlin, Germany, South African ambassador Makhenkesi Stofile said: “The knock-out blow of his departure has left us punch-drunk. We have lost the greatest and most charismatic champion of oomaskhanda and traditional music. Africa was his water and he was the fish.”
Arts and Culture MEC Pemmy Majodina said her department would “pull out all the stops” to ensure a great send-off for Mbixane.
She has asked Masualle to sanction a provincial funeral and promised “it will be out of this world”.
The founder of the Satma awards, Dumisani Goba, said Mbixana’s death had been met with a “huge outcry” in KwaZulu-Natal, home to many of his fans.
“We are still very shocked. We were expecting a lot from him,” said Goba.
Parliament’s chair of the portfolio committee on social development, Zoleka Capa, said Mbixane had restored dignity to black people.
“Hordes of youth he mentored are left deeply wounded,” said Capa.
Agriculture MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said Mbixane had promoted agriculture as a way of alleviating poverty.
“Mbixane’s hand hoe has fallen. He ploughed his last seeds, uttered his last words on his radio show. But his legacy will live on,” he said.
Eastern Cape DA chairwoman and MPL Veliswa Mvenya said: “DJ Ntozabantwana was a true friend to his listeners and will be sorely missed. We trust that the prayers of his listeners and the grace of God will carry his family through this trying time.”
In November, Alfred Nzo district municipality mayor Eunice Diko handed Mbixane an executive mayor’s special award.
ANC provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane said the loss of Mbixana so soon after the death of the DJ’s son, was a double blow to the family.
UWfm station manager Phumzile Mnci said the SABC would welcome a provincial funeral. — Additional reporting by Asanda Nini