Award-winning singer-songwriter Bulelwa Mkutukana, popularly known as Zahara, has passed away at the age of 36, three weeks after being admitted to hospital in Johannesburg for a yet to be disclosed medical condition.
The sad news of Zahara’s passing was announced by the SABC on Monday evening and later confirmed by minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Zizi Kodwa in a Twitter Statement. “I am very saddened by the passing of @ZaharaSA. My deepest condolences to the Mkutukana family and the South African music industry. Government has been with the family for some time now. Zahara and her guitar made an incredible and lasting impact in South African music,” Kodwa wrote.
Although Zahara’s family has not revealed full details surrounding her hospitalization and death, some media reports allege that she suffered from a liver-related illness. There are also allegations that she may have been poisoned by a jealous relative around the days of her lobola negotiations, which took place two days before her hospitalization. Zahara was set to tie the knot with her fiancé Mpho Xaba after the two got engaged earlier this year.
On the 9th of November, when she celebrated her 36th birthday, Zahara, who appeared to be healthy and in good spirits, posted this on Facebook:
“Today I celebrate 36 years of God’s grace, mercy, and kindness .
To my beautiful family, my friends, fans, and the Zahara Army worldwide, ndiyabulela kakhulu (I am very grateful) for your love. You guys have supported me through the highest heights and lowest of lows .
To God who called me and keeps me in perfect peace, all glory to Him .
To many more years.”
Zahara rose to fame in 2011 following the release of her first album Loliwe, which scooped eight awards at the 18th South African Music Awards in 2012. The songstress went on to release four more albums Phendula (2013), Country Girl (2015), Mgodi (2017) and Inqaba Yami (2021). Throughout her career, she won at least 21 major music awards, as detailed in her Wikipedia biography.