The family of legendary jazz and opera musician Sibongile Khumalo has described her last days as extremely difficult.

The funeral service of the First Lady of Song as she was affectionately called is underway at the Market Theatre in Newtown Johannesburg. Khumalo died last week from stroke-related complications at the age of 63.

The late musician’s only brother Lindumuzi Mngoma says the internationally renowned artist had experienced health challenges for the past four years.

“Sibongile has not been well and you are aware that she has not been on stage for some time. For four years, she was driven around by her daughter because she had a mild stroke. At the beginning of last year, she had a second attack which landed her in hospital. She recovered and only close family were able to visit her. Her last days were hard for the family. She was not even able to communicate,” says Mngoma.

The funeral service of the late Sibongile Khumalo gets under way at the Market Theatre

Speaking on behalf of her family, Siya Khumalo, said they would miss her warm personality.

“We have lost someone special, someone with a beautiful soul, who made everybody feel special, the love she had for everyone was something beautiful to witness no matter what was going on she always made time for those she cared about. She always had an ear for you Ma’mngoma siyabonga.  Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, thank you for sharing your gift with us. Thank you for healing us with your music, we are truly grateful for the human you were,” says Khumalo.

Violinist, Tshepo Mngoma, says the memory and legacy of his mother will live on in her children and grandchildren. Mngoma says, his mother was an important gift to their family.

“She was planted in the Mngoma family to be a blessing.  This beautiful flower has been plucked from this planet but the memory will live on through us. Ma – I want to say to you, thank you for loving me. Thank you for all the teachings. You gave me my first professional gig in 1999 until the last gig I did with you last year. Thank you so much, I am the musician I am today because of your teachings,” says Mngoma.

Khumalo will be buried in the Heroes’ Acre at the West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg.

Sibongile Khumalo Funeral