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South Africa mourns as COVID-19 claims music men, Lethole, Kgengoe



The South African music industry is mourning the deaths of music promoters Shonisani Lethole, 33, and Pheko Kgengoe, 35, who both died of COVID-19 in Johannesburg on June 30, 2020.

According to Lethole passed away at Tembisa Hospital where he was admitted with breathing difficulties, while Kgengoe succumbed to the virus at Helen Joseph Hospital.

While in hospital on 25 June, Lethole, who ran workshops and linked local musicians with international opportunities, wrote a tweet to Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize in which he said that the hospital staff had not given him food for two days.

“Dr Zweli Mkhize, can I respond to your tweets if the problems I have at one of your facilities continues, it’s becoming unbearable and they don’t seem to care. Didn’t eat for 48 hours.”


Since Lethole’s death on Tuesday, the tweet has ignited anger towards the government and the hospital’s methods in dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Lethole’s father, Albert, who spoke to IOL on Wednesday, revealed some of the details surrounding Shonisani’s death. He said the nurses at the hospital had refused to help him to the bathroom. He also had to plead with one of the nurses to take homemade food to his son.

“The food that I got him during the week was still sealed. I could feel that something was wrong but they were just not forthcoming with information,” Albert Lethole told the publication.

The Lethole family has now approached the government for answers.

Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the department was aware of the incident, and the matter had been brought to the attention of the MEC’s office and was referred to the hospital’s chief executive for management.

“The department will ascertain all facts surrounding the incident with the quality assurance team, and a detailed report will be provided to the family,” Kekana said.

On his part, Kgengoe worked for Universal Music and Sony Music before he established a PR company called 4 The Love, which did consultancy work for MACUFE Festival and artistes such as Unathi, Kwesta, Black Coffee, Oskido, Black Motion and Kid X.

Music publicity and marketing specialist Thabiso Mogwathle said Kgengoe was a talented promoter, who had shaped the careers of many local artists.

“I have known Pheko since 2008. He used to work at Universal Music as an IT specialist. He had a bug for music and we slowly brought him into our division as a consultant and trained him to do PR. He worked fully with me in the local division. He was very passionate and contributed a lot to the music industry. His death is a loss to the whole music industry. It has not fully sunk in that he is gone. He was a friend, a brother and a business partner as we worked on various projects together.”

Musician Kabomo wrote on Twitter: “Pheko promoted my first album All Things Grey when people thought my sound was weird. He somehow was able to push it until it was a number one record. I have him to thank for my music career. Love and many thanks my brother, you will be missed.”

Local hip hop manager Refiloe Ramogase wrote: “Wow! I am so saddened. Man, you had such go after leaving Sony, and going on your own, you blossomed and realised so much of your potential. I am so sad because you are leaving behind such a young child. Rest easy papa. You’ll be missed.”


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