Friday, October 26, 2007

Lucky Dube Update: Convicts Condemn Murder of Reggae Icon; Masses Flock to Memorial Service

Even convicts condemn murder of Lucky Dube

Johannesburg, South Africa
26 October 2007 01:02

The killing of South African reggae star Lucky Dube in a botched hijacking in Johannesburg last week has taken outrage over crime in the country to new levels.

Now prisoners serving time for violent crime have added their voices to the slew of politicians, artists and fans who have condemned his death.

Nearly 100 inmates of a prison near Pretoria in a petition decried Dube's killing in a signed petition, according to the Sowetan newspaper on Friday.

"Though we are serving sentences for crimes similar to this one, we feel we have wronged our nation and there is no justification for this barbaric act," the petition read. "This is our way of apologising to the community and a sign that we have changed."

South Africans have been united in shock and grief over the killing of the 43-year-old star on October 18 in front of his two teenage children during an apparent botched carjacking.

Dube's 25-year career had seen him tour the world during the apartheid era and beyond with catchy tunes denouncing social injustice.

In latter years he had also pondered South Africa's crime problem in his lyrics: about 52 people are murdered and 144 people report being raped each day in South Africa, making it one of the world's most violent societies.

Key cultural figures have not been spared by the violence. Earlier this year, world-famous Anglo-Zulu war historian David Rattray was gunned down at his home in KwaZulu-Natal in an attempted robbery, and elderly Nobel Literature Prize laureate Nadine Gordimer was tied up at her home, also by robbers.

More than 1 000 fans and public figures packed a memorial service for Dube at the famous Bassline music venue in Johannesburg on Wednesday. His funeral on Sunday in KwaZulu-Natal is set to be a private affair.

Four men appeared briefly in court earlier this week charged with murder and attempted hijacking in connection with his death. -- Sapa-dpa

Masses flock to Dube memorial service

Thembelihle Tshabalala and Sapa
Johannesburg, South Africa
24 October 2007 05:02

A crowd of about 500 bereaved music fans thronged in the scorching sun outside music venue the Bassline in Johannesburg's Newtown cultural precinct on Wednesday for the memorial service of slain South African reggae icon Lucky Dube.

Inside were another 1 000 fans, family members and friends of the singer who was shot dead last Thursday during an apparent hijacking in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.

The three-hour memorial service -- in celebration of a life "lived with a purpose", in the words of Dube's long-time keyboardist Eugene Mthethwa -- was scheduled to start at 11am but only got under way about 30 minutes later as fans jostled for space.

The MC, fellow musician Sipho "Hotstix" Mabuse, opened the ceremony with a prayer, and a song of praise was performed by members of the Shembe Nazareth Church to which Dube belonged. Mabuse called Dube a hero in South Africa and the rest of the world.

Job Dube, a family representative, paid tribute to the singer and said the Dubes had lost more than just a family member. "Lucky was a pillar of the Dube family," he said.

Dube's spiritual presence was felt when his band performed two of his songs, Rastas Never Die and Shembe Is the Way -- to which crowd members, many in tears, sang along.

Dube this year alone performed in 81 overseas concerts, and Gallo Records South Africa CEO Ivor Haarburger described him as an "amazing performer".

"I've been in Lucky's career and life for more than 20 years and he was quiet and reserved," he said.

The service was also attended by singer Thandiswa Mazwai and actress Lilian Dube, and letters of condolence from the presidents of The Gambia and Senegal were read.

Mbaqanga singer Bhekumuzi Luthuli was clearly deeply moved by Dube's death as tears streamed down his face during a performance of one of his own songs.

"I loved Lucky. I am crying because I don't know who did this and I am sorry to say this, but I need to say it so I can heal. We must revisit the justice system and bring back the death sentence because the people who killed Lucky will be arrested, but Lucky will never come back," he said to loud applause from the crowd.

Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the working class and the poor are the main victims of crime in South Africa. The death of Dube should be a wake-up call for South Africans to unite against crime.

"This atrocity highlights the grim reality of the daily carnage on our streets, the main victims of which are working people and the poor," he told mourners.

Vavi quoted from one of Dube's popular songs, saying the words underline that everyone can be affected by crime. The lyrics read in part: "Do you ever worry about leaving home and coming back in a coffin, with a bullet through your head?"

South African queen of gospel Rebecca Malope told the Mail & Guardian Online afterwards that the memorial service was conducted in a way that Dube would have liked. "He was passionate about music and this is the best way that we can ever commiserate [with] his death and celebrate his life," she said.

Three hours of music and tributes to a great artist whose music advocated peace were hardly sufficient for a large number of Rastafarians gathered outside the Bassline, who carried on chanting and singing along to Dube's songs, played after the ceremony on a big-screen television outside the venue.

"Lucky is survived by his mother, Sara; wife, Zanele; and his seven children, Bongi, Ninkululeko, Thokozani, Laura, Siyanda, Philani and baby Melokuhle; one brother and three sisters. Lala kahle, Mtima [Rest in peace, Mtima]," read the memorial programme handed to mourners.

Lucky Dube's Newcastle funeral service cancelled

Johannesburg, South Africa
24 October 2007 08:59

The Newcastle funeral service for South African reggae star Lucky Dube has been cancelled, spokespersons for the family said on Tuesday.

"The family wishes to respect [his] final wishes to have a small and dignified funeral," they said in a statement.

The family initially indicated that the public would be welcome at Dube's funeral service at the Farmers' Hall in Newcastle on October 28, but not at his burial.

However, on Tuesday their spokesperson said the funeral service had been cancelled.

They said anyone wanting to pay their last respects could do so by attending a memorial service at the Bassline in Newtown at 11am on Wednesday.

Flowers could be delivered to the offices of Slave Promotions, Downtown Studios, Second Floor, 62 Goud Street, Johannesburg.

Dube, a Shembe worshipper, was shot dead in a botched hijacking while dropping off his two teenaged children at his brother's house in Rosettenville on Thursday.

His four alleged murderers, South Africans Sifiso Mlanga and Julius Gxowa, and Mozambicans Thabo Mafoping and Mbofi Mabe, appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

They were not asked to plead and the case was postponed until October 30 to enable them to apply for legal aid. - Sapa

Dube murder accused appear in court

Johannesburg, South Africa
23 October 2007 03:43

The four men accused of the murder of reggae star Lucky Dube appeared briefly in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

Magistrate A Roux postponed the case to October 30 for their applications for legal aid to be processed.

The state opposed bail and the four, two of whom are Mozambicans, will remain in custody. They face charges of murder, attempted hijacking and the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Roux raised his eyebrows and puckered his lips when he saw how crowded his courtroom was.

This was met by laughter from the gallery, which quickly faded as the four accused emerged from the holding cells.

Even some of the cleaners had taken time off work to watch.

One of the accused had covered his head with a towel and the others had hoods pulled over their faces. They removed these once they turned their backs to the gallery and faced the magistrate.

Singer Pat Sibeko, who was in Dube's band in his early days, began sobbing as he looked at the accused and had to be comforted by a police officer.

Accused number two, speaking softly, expressed concerns that his appearance on October 30 would clash with his appearance in Heidelberg on November 27 in another case.

Roux said this would not pose a problem.

Three of the accused were of slight build and two of them had scars across their heads. The fourth man was larger and had a scar across his face.

When they returned to the cells, they covered their faces again -- an action met by howls of protests from the public gallery. People demanded that they show their faces.

The four accused are Sifiso Mlanga and Julius Gxowa from Mozambique, Thabo Mafoping and Mbofi Mabe.

Meanwhile, Dube's family said that members of the public and journalists would be welcome to attend his funeral at Farmers' Hall in Newcastle on Sunday. They, however, wanted the burial to take place in private.

Dube was shot dead in a botched hijacking in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, last Thursday while dropping off his teenage son and daughter at a relative's house. -- Sapa

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