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DEATH OF SANDILE SHANGE (article first published : 2003-10-8)

Top KZN guitarist Sandile Shange died tragically in a motor accident in Durban at the age of 59. Born in KZN, he was raised in a family of musicians. He leaves his wife, four daughters and a son. The son has followed in his father’s footsteps and is now playing for Jazz Celebration in Johannesburg.

The following is a notice sent out by Neil and Nicola Comfort of the Rainbow Restaurant and Jazz Club, a venue with which Sandile Shange had been closely involved for many years.

“Dear Friends of the Rainbow: It was with great sadness that we received the tragic news, yesterday morning, of the death of guitarist supreme, Sandile Shange.

Whilst we do not have the full details, we understand that he was busy with a gig in Durban and had dashed off to get a cable and met with an accident on the way back to the venue on that Vespa that was so synonymous with the little big man. The accident took place at the corner of Innes and Windermere and apparently a drunk in a car jumped the robot. This person sped away from the scene but left his number plate behind and I sincerely hope he or she spends the rest of their life in prison for having robbed us of such a special talent. I will certainly be supporting the family in suing this person for everything they have!

Sandile's association with the Rainbow tracks right back to the early 80's. He made regular appearances on our stage, most often with friend and fellow musician Darius Brubeck. He was noted for his work with Mbongeni Ngema as well as being a founder member of Busi Mhlongo's Twasa band in the early 90's. On a personal note that was the period when I first got to know Sandile.

For Nicola and I, I think what we will miss most are those "crazy" chats we had with Mr. Shange (as he was always greeted at the Rainbow as). He had a penchant for watching those cheap B grade movies shown at the cinema in Hill Street. He would park the Vespa at the Rainbow, go and watch the movie and then come back to the Rainbow and entertain us for hours with his "musicians" take on the world. One of my favourite sayings is "If I don't see an element of madness in a musician, I do not trust them as a musician". Sandile is someone I trusted implicitly.

Go, our friend, and continue to make wonderful music with that big band in Heaven - so many have left us in recent times, it is becoming too much to list all the names. Hamba Kahle - from your friends at the Rainbow Jazz Club.

For those of who are able to assist the family through this difficult time, please find below the bank details of Sandile's only son, who is left with the difficult task of dealing with the police and everything else. If any of you is a lawyer who might be able to help in suing this despicable person, please drop me a line.” – Neil Comfort

Account details: SJD Mgwaba, First National Bank, Branch Code – 221426, Smart account - 62055722831




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