December 28, 2023

Veteran Playwright Mbongeni Ngema has Died

The South African entertainment industry is mourning the loss of local playwright and actor, Mbongeni Ngema, after he was killed in a head-on collision.

The 68-year-old was returning from a funeral in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape and was a passenger in one of the vehicles.

The theatre producer, musician, composer and choreographer was best known for co-writing and starring in Sarafina! In 1992. He also co-created and performed in the award-winning political drama play Woza Albert!

Tributes to Ngema flooded social media. Sport, arts and culture minister Zizi Kodwa and celebrities Lebo M and Khaya Dladla were among those who shared tributes online.

Ngema’s legacy is clouded, however, by allegations of sexual harassment and intimidation while co-directing a stage production of Sarafina in 2019. In 2020, his ex-wife Xoliswa Nduneni-Ngema published memoirs in which she also detailed instances of alleged abuse and rape committed by Ngema.