Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Joseph Shabalala, 78, died on Tuesday morning at Life Eugene Marais in Pretoria, group manager Xolani Majozi confirmed to TshisaLIVE.
Majozi said Shabalala was with his wife, Thokozile Shabalala, during his last moments.
“Yes it’s true. Mr Shabalala passed on this morning. The group (Ladysmith Black Mambazo) is on tour in the US, but they have been informed and are devastated because the group is family.”
Majozi said Shabalala’s family would issue an official statement later in the day.
Over the past few years Shabalala’s health deteriorated, resulting in him retiring from the group in 2014.
Earlier this year, Shabalala was admitted to hospital due to ill health, and those close to him asked fans to keep him in their prayers.
In 2017, Shabalala was admitted to hospital after his health took a nosedive after he underwent spine surgery and “struggled” to get back on his feet.
“He is old now. We were worried when he went in for the operation, and are still very concerned because he is sick, but he is getting stronger,” spokesperson Sandile Khumalo said at the time.
Although Shabalala officially handed over leadership of Ladysmith Black Mambazo to his son Sibongiseni about three years ago, the star occasionally made appearances with the group at events.
Khumalo said Shabalala’s ailing health meant he was no longer able to travel or attend events with the group.