South African singer Mandoza bows out at age 38

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Mduduzi Mandoza Tshabalala
Mduduzi Mandoza Tshabalala

On Sunday 18th while many South Africans were enjoying a sunny blissful afternoon, the family of Kwaito legend singer Mandoza was left shattered after receiving word of his death. Mandoza Tshabalala, best known for his hit Nkalakatha died at the age of 38 after being diagnosed with brain cancer a year ago. Mandoza leaves behind an inexhaustible work of art that is loved by many South Africans from different walks of life.

Mandoza was born in Soweto in 1978; he was born as Mduduzi Tshabalala
He took Mandoza as his stage name which originates from a popular 1990’s cartoon character Fat Dog Mandoza. When he was age sixteen he was charged with stealing a car and received a one and a half year sentence in Diepkloof Prison. After being released from prison Mandoza formed a group called Chiskop along with three childhood friends, the group signed its first record deal eight years after its formation. The group then released their debut album titled “Akusheshi” and later released “Relax” they received great success and were widely seen as the face of Kwaito music. Mandoza started a solo career in 1999 and released his album “911s Zola South” which gained him the 2000 FNB South African Music award for best newcomer. In the year 2000 he released his acclaimed album that catapulted him to success “Nkalakatha”. The album became multi-platinum and the hit title track topped the charts on both black and white radio stations. The album won the best kwaito music award and the album’s title track won song of the year at the South African Music Awards.

Mandoza later faced destitution in his life as a celebrity, In March 2008 Mandoza crashed his Chrysler SRT into a VW Jetta on the N1 North near the Beyers Naude off ramp, two people died at the scene. Mandoza was found guilty on two counts of culpable homicide and was sentenced to four years behind bars (suspended for 5 years). In February 2010 Mandoza was involved in another crash and was treated at the Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg for a head injury.

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Before Mandoza’s death concerns had been raised about his health as reports suggested that the singer was rushed to hospital twice in the space of two months. According to Mandoza’s family he was being treated for Pharyngeal cancer a very rare cancer. Prior to his death he had lost his eyesight. On September 18th Mandoza died, according to reports Mandoza waited in vain for three hours for an ambulance to arrive at his home, his manager used a private vehicle to carry Mandoza to the hospital but he died in the car just before arriving.

Local singers, celebrities and those who loved him attended the funeral. South African President Jacob Zuma paid tribute to the singer and described him as an innovator of Kwaito music and said he would be missed by all. “South Africa has lost one of its pioneers whose music appealed to a cross-section of our people, young and old and was known to have achieved the unique crossover culturally to be enjoyed by both black and white South Africans,” Zuma said in a statement issued by the presidency after Mandoza’s death.


Marvin Charles is a South African journalist, Marvin has worked both in print and broadcasting and has over three years of journalism experience. Marvin is currently residing in Cape Town, South Africa and does regular news contributions for various media houses.

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