Three members of maskandi group Abafana Bakamolo baNgempela were stabbed to death at Phumula Mapleton, near Vosloorus on the East Rand, in what is believed to be part of the ongoing maskandi war.
Claims have been made that the trio were allegedly targeted because they sang a maskandi sound that was created by the late maskandi legend Bhekumuzi Luthuli, who hailed from KwaMaphumulo, KZN.
The incident took place early on Saturday at a celebration where the group was scheduled to perform. Abafana Bakamolo is a five-member group founded in 2006 by Luthuli.
The three members, who were backing vocalists and dancers, are Lebohang Dlamini, Mxolisi Hlabeni and Lehlohonolo Mofokeng.
According to the survivor and group leader, Xolani Mkhize, the three were aged between 18 and 20 years.
Mkhize, who was not present when the tragedy occurred, said that according to witnesses the two groups apparently began arguing because the trio sang what they believed was maskandi reserved only for singers from KwaZulu-Natal.
He said the other maskandi group apparently drove away after the incident.
“To me it looks like the whole thing was planned. People told me that the other group mentioned that they have killed three and wanted the remaining two, which was me and the other young dancer,” Mkhize said.
“I don’t think my life is safe after all this. I am actually fearing for my life. They wanted to wipe out the whole group.”
Mkhize and the other member survived because they could not travel with the group.
He said the issue started far back after Luthuli had died. Initially, Abafana Bakamolo were made up of him and Sibusiso Mtshali.
Both were backing vocalists and dancers for Luthuli. After he died in 2010, Mtshali revived the group with other people excluding Mkhize.
In 2013, Mkhize also formed a group with the late three members and called it Abafana Bakamolo baNgempela.
“Before these guys worked with me, they were dancing as a group. I saw a potential and roped them in but I also wanted to keep them busy,” he said.
Music producer and singer Shobeni Khuzwayo has criticised the incident and that no one owns a music style.
“If it is true that the three young people died because the issue was the style of their music, that is totally wrong.
“The style is the same but what differs is how people compose their music,” Khuzwayo said.
“Young artists who are starting in the industry need to know that any style is born because of the previous musicians. It does not come from nowhere.”
Maskandi legend Phuzekhemisi did not want to be drawn into the matter, claiming that the issue was too complicated.
Speaking to Sowetan Lehlohonolo Mofokeng’s mother Busisiwe Khanyi explained that she is still shocked by the news. “What he always wanted was to entertain, he did not deserve to die like this.”