2020 Year in Review: Prominent figures who lost their lives this year


A number of prominent South African figures lost their lives this year that will best be remembered for the coronavirus pandemic. These included former Ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, veteran actress Mary Twala, and kwaito artist Mshoza, as well as former Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, to name just a few.

Mary Twala

Veteran actress, Mary Twala, died at the age of 80 at Parklane Hospital in Johannesburg, in July. Twala had an extensive career in film and television. Her film career includes international films such as Mapantsula, Sarafina!, and Taxi to Soweto. On the small screen, she was known for her roles in Hlala Kwabafileyo, Soul Buddyz, Yizo-Yizo, and Muvhango.

She won the Best Comedy Performer awards for her performances in Hlala Kwabafileyo and Molo Fish. She was also awarded The Order of Ikhamanga in Silver by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Market Theatre Director, James Ngcobo, describes her as the actress most looked up to in the industry.

“I don’t know how many young actresses who are doing so well in the industry, who talk about how she was the guiding light; the actress that they looked up to as young actresses coming up. But she left an indelible mark to people who saw her performances and who saw how one had such longevity of career. She was just a stunning person.”

SABC’s last interview with Mary Twala:

Kimi Makwetu

A patriot and a man of integrity, these are just some of the words used to describe the late Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Makwetu passed away in November at the age of 54.

He succumbed to stage-four lung cancer. Makwetu has been described as a man of honour who served his country with dignity. Corporate Executive, Mmabatho Mase Sedikela, who worked with him at the AG’s office, remembers him as a great mentor and leader.

“We honour a man that has touched many lives. We honour a man who was an example of a great leader. We honour a man who has served the country with distinction, who loved his family dearly. AG never missed an opportunity to teach, to guide, to mentor and to lead us, a true servant leader. Let’s build on the firm foundation he laid. We will and we must continue where he left off.”

Kimi Makwetu’s memorial service: 


The late queen of Kwaito, Mshoza’s name has been added to the list of music icons.  She died at the Far East Rand Hospital in November. Mshoza had been in and out of hospital getting treatment for diabetes. She rose to fame as the First Lady of Kwaito with her smash hit Kortes in the early 2000s.

Mshoza collaborated with stars such as Mzambiya and Msawawa. Television and radio personality, Khanyi Mbau, says Mshoza is a legend.

“Nomasonto, here we are today, I never thought this day would come. We always said we would grow old together. Today, we celebrate a woman who exactly knew who she was. It is not often that people listen to her inner child. Her communication was music, the loudest form of art, a gift, a form of therapy to most of us. But behind the child star, kwaito queen, Godmother and now transcended into an iconic figure, a legend added into the history of South African music.”

Khanyi Mbau pays tribute to Mshoza:

Dawn Lindberg

Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Naledi Awards, Dawn Lindberg, was passionate about the performing arts and did much to keep theatre alive. She passed away in December from health complications related to COVID-19.

Dawn and her husband, Des, enjoyed successful careers as musicians and entertainers and were famous for many hits that include ‘The Seagull’s Name was Nelson’ in 1971, which topped the charts for 20 weeks. They also created the internationally recognised Naledi Theatre Awards that have honoured more than 300 artists and theatre-makers. In a Facebook message from her home, a week before her passing, Lindberg said excellence must be recognised and rewarded.

“I’m afraid COVID-19 has deprived me of the honour of helping to hand over the Naledi trophy to the winners in person. I tested COVID-19 positive, so I’m in quarantine with my husband Des. This has been a brutal year for those who make theatre happen in South Africa; it is our duty to keep reminding the government every day and every night that we are still here as we struggle to survive in an economy that has been strangled to a point of desperation. We all owe it to ourselves and to our emerging South African storytellers, to keep our theatre alive.”

Actress Marah Louw remembers Dawn Lindberg:

Zindzi Mandela

In July, the daughter of Nelson Mandela, Zindzi Mandela died in Hospital after testing positive for coronavirus at the age of 59. An emotional Minister of Human Settlements Water and Sanitation Lindiwe Sisulu said she was bigger than life.

Zindzi Mandela laid to rest:

Dr Clarence Mini

In May, the chairperson of the Council of Medical Schemes and AIDS activist, Dr Clarence Mini died at the age of 68.

Dr. Clarence Mini’s memorial service:

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