15 Mzansi Celebrities Who died from Cancer 

Cancer continues to kill millions of people around the world. Every sixth death in the world is due to cancer, states Our World In Data website. In past few years, South Africa lost several celebrities to cancer and we will explore 15 of those Mzansi celebrities who died from cancer.

No1. Vuyo Mokoena

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Vuyo Mokoena

On 23 May 2008, Vuyo Mokoena’s record company confirmed that he had died at 5.30 in the morning. Mokoena was admitted to the hospital after experiencing blinding headaches. Tests revealed that he had developed a brain tumour. Mokoena was known for gospel hit songs like Avuleka AmaZulu, UJesu Uyamemeza and Njalo to name but few. [1]

No2. Mark Pilgrim

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Mark Pilgrim

Media personality, Mark Pilgrim, who hosted several radio and television shows, died of lung cancer 05 March 2023. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer which he later reveal had spread to his femur, the base of his spine and lymph nodes. This was a return of an enemy he had conquer 33 years ago when he was still a boy. It’s only this time it returned too strong for him and succumbed to it.

No3. Zoleka Mandela

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Zoleka Mandela

Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, writer and activist Zoleka Mandela died on 25 September 2023 after losing to terminal cancer. In months leading to her death, Zoleka drafted her will and planned her memorial and funeral service, which included a list of prominent family members who were excluded from attending the funeral. She had requested to buried at Fourways Memorial Park in Johannesburg but her aunt Zenani Mandela-Dlamini enforced the burial to be elsewhere.

No4. Angie Oeh

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Angie Oeh

Afrikaans rapper, Angelique Eurika Greeff, who was professionally known as Angie Oeh died on 19 August 2023 after losing to stage 4 lung cancer battle. Angie was just 24 years old at the time of death which made her manager to say, “It is very sad and very terrible to lose Angie at a young age,”.

In 2022, Greeff had a cancerous tumor measuring 15cm in diameter, removed from her back. When it returned in 2023, Angie expressed that she needed R200 000 for medical expenses and appealed for help. A BackaBuddy campaign was created and accumulated over R278 000 in donations.

No5. Marietjie Bothma

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Marietjie Bothma

TV personality, MC, motivational speaker and radio presenter, Marietjie Bothma, died in May 2023 at Gauteng hospital after a cancer diagnosis. She was just 40 years old by the time of death. She captured the heart of the nation when she appeared in a pie advert speaking Zulu, and featured on some of Mzansi’s biggest soapies.

No6. Mduduzi Mandoza Tshabalala

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Mandoza

Mandoza was a South African musician, songwriter and kwaito star. He was known for his contribution to the kwaito genre and his numerous hit singles, Including “Nkalakatha”, “Indoda”, “Ngalabesi when we name a few. Mandoza died on 18 September 2016. According to his family, he was being treated for pharyngeal cancer prior to his death and lost his eye sight. On the day of his death, his family noticed that Mandoza had gotten worse and they called an ambulance. Sadly, the ambulance never came and his manager used his private car but it was too late, so Mandoza died before reaching the hospital. [2]

No7. Derek Watts

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Derek Watts

Television presenter and investigative reporter who worked for Carte Blanche, on M-net  for 35 years died of cancer as well in 2023. In 2022, Watts was diagnosed with skin cancer that later spread to his lungs. He was admitted to hospital in March 2023 after suffering a suspect stroke and was subsequently diagnosed with severe sepsis. Watts died on 22 August 2023 at the age of 74 a mother after retiring from Carte Blanche.

No8. Jabu Khanyile

Another celebrity to die of cancer is Jabu Khanyile back in 2006. The award winning singer was best known for songs such as “Sponky Ponky”, “Ten Times Love”, “So Why” when we name a few. At the time of death in November 2006, Jabu was battling two chronic diseases; diabetes and prostate cancer. The legendary singer died at the age of 49 at his Dobsonville, Soweto home.

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No 9. John Shoe Moshoeu

South African soccer player John Shoe Moshoeu who was Parr of the national team that won the 1996 African Cup of Nations died of cancer in 2015. He died on 21 April 2015 at the Morning Hospital after a long battle with stomach cancer.  Moshoeu was known known for playing for the nation team, AmaZulu, Kaizer Chiefs and initially for an amateur team Giant Blackpool.

No10. Fatima Sydow

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Fatima Sydow

Cookbook author and television personality Fatima Sydow is one among the famous people of Mzansi who died of cancer as well. Her type of cancer which she battled was called soft tissue sarcoma.  Sydow gained recognition and became well-known through her Facebook page, which she started in 2011. In 2015, she self-published her first cookbook, The Journey of Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow. She later started a YouTube channel increasing her reach to her audience and in 2021 she began a cooking television show with her sister.

No11. Busi Mhlongo

Maskandi artist Busi Mhlongo died on 16 June 2010 after long battle with breast cancer. She shared the stage with music legends like Hugh Masekela, Dorothy Masuka, Salif Keita, Manu Dibango and many others. She also became a sangoma which influenced some of her albums. [3]

No12. Thandi Klasseen

Nelson Mandela’s favourite singer and legendary local Jazz icon, Thandi Klaasen, died at the age of 86 from pancreatic cancer. She was known for songs like “Sophiatown”, “Mountain song” and others. Klaasen’s illustrious music career started in mid-1950 in Sophiatwon and her career took off when she performed with Dolly Rathebe, Miriam Makeba, Dorothy Masuku and Sophie Mgcina.

No13. Koyo Bala

Openly gay musician Koyo Bala died in 2016 after long battle with anal cancer. Koyo was also open to the public about his HIV status, that he was HIV positive. He was part of a pop gay group known as 3-Sum made up of Bala‚ Amstel Maboa and the late Jeff Moyo, who were popularly known in the South African entertainment industry as gay rights activists.

No14. Ray Phiri

Jazz and fusion musician Ray Phiri who was also the founding member of Cannibals music group and later founder of Stimela music group died of cancer in 2017. Ray had been a man whom some would have called, a man with 9 lives because he survived several accidents which claimed his loved ones and friends. Phiri was diagnosed with lung cancer and died at the age of 70 on 12 July 2017 at a Nelspruit hospital.

No15. Desmond Tutu

15 Mzansi Celebs that succumbed to Cancer 
Image of Desmond Tutu

Former archbishop and peace nobel price winner Desmond Tutu died of prostate cancer on 25 December 2021. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997 and had been hospitalized several times in recent years. Tutu held a unique place in apartheid-era South Africa, and he used his stature as an Anglican prelate to navigate violent crosscurrents.