THE late actor Mandla "Bongo" Thabethe, who was killed in a motorbike accident early on Sunday spent his professional life making people laugh through his TV comedy acts.
But yesterday a dark cloud of sadness enveloped the M2 studios at Auckland Park, Johannesburg, as colleagues, fans and close friends gathered to pay the funnyman their last respects.
Those gathered in the packed memorial venue included a strong presence of the biking community.
They gathered enough courage in the face of the loss to render emotionally charged choral pieces.
The actor was a member of the Sopranos, a prominent biking club based in Midrand.
Among those who performed was the popular SABC Choir conducted by well-known choral master Thulasizwe "Thulas" Nkabinde and new gospel artist Fikile Mlomo, who was a friend of the actor.
Mlomo rendered a song from her debut album, which she said was the late actor's favourite.
Thabethe was particularly popular with TV viewers, mainly for his educational comedies and his latest Zulu comedy series Family Bonds, in which he played a starring role.
Besides producing the show, it was his last signature production. It will remain in people's memories that he immortalised through his humour the character "Bongo", which became his nickname.
"We are grateful for the support that we got from his friends and colleagues," was all a grief-stricken Ben Thabethe, Mandla's cousin, could manage to say.
Thabethe, who is survived by his wife Mapula and their three-year-old son, will be buried in Durban on Saturday.