Throngs at burial of popular singer

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Thousands of mourners gathered in a giant marquee at Ingogo Farm in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, to bid farewell to slain reggae icon Lucky Dube yesterday.

Rastafarians and members of the Shembe Church mingled with local, African and other international musicians.

The burial was a strictly family affair at a private graveside.

Dube, 43, was gunned down in a botched hijacking in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, 10 days ago.

Newcastle was in mourning as Dube was given his final send-off.

Shembe leaders said crime in the country was "out of control" and called on the government to act firmly against it.

Speakers described Dube as a "man of peace". There wasn't a dry eye as Dube's music was played.

Fellow musicians wept openly as his song Shembe is the way was played.

Band member Skipper Shabalala said Lucky was a humble man and a teacher to fellow musicians.

"He was a provider and father. I don't know why he was killed in such a barbaric and brutal manner. His spirit lives on."

Among the mourners were local musicians and artists Mzwakhe Mbuli, iHash' Elimhlophe, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Mercy Pakela, Thokozani Langa and Ntando Bangani.

Dube's fellow members of the Shembe Nazareth Baptist Church Esabatheni could not hide their anguish.

"We are in pain over the death of our brother," said Gugu Ngwenya. "We visited his family and we still could not believe it."

Ngwenya said Dube was a humble, caring person and a staunch Christian.

Mayor Lungile Dube, no relation, said Lucky's death had left a huge gap in the community.

"He was precious gold to us in the area.

"He grew up in front us. He had respect for everyone and studied here too," she said.

She said the reggae icon put the small town on the global map.

"He never forgot us even at the height of his success. He was our ambassador and our son," she said.

Police were on standby to help mourners and control traffic.

Dube maintained his ties to the area. He owned a farm at Ingogo and a home in Madadeni.

His daughter R&B singer Bongi, complained of mourners who failed to show respect and decency at her fathers' funeral. She hit out at women "who attended the funeral wearing mini skirts and pants".

She said her father was a man of principle who put people first.

"My father always taught us to respect others and to wear attire that fits the occasion.

"He said at funerals it's important that women cover their heads and not show off their hairstyles," said Bongi.

KwaZulu-Natal arts and culture MEC Weziwe Thusi said Dube's death was a huge loss to the province.

"The province was planning to solicit Dube's skills to help develop young artists," she said.

Dube recorded 22 albums in a 25-year career and was South Africa's biggest-selling reggae artist.

He is survived by his wife Zanele and seven children.