The arts industry in Zimbabwe has been plunged into mourning following the death of Iyasa founding and longest-serving member, Sibonisiwe “Bonnie” Sithole, who died in Bulawayo on Wednesday.
She was 37 and is survived by a child.
Sithole died after a short illness.
According to Iyasa director Nkululeko Dube, who confirmed the death, Sithole complained of chest pains on Wednesday and was rushed to hospital.
“Bonnie has passed on,” he said. “I took her to Mpilo Central Hospital and then to United Bulawayo Hospitals where she died this morning (Wednesday). She was complaining of chest pains. I was with her and left the hospital at 1am. This is sad news to the arts fratenity.”
Mourners are gathered at number 371 Matshobana, suburb, Bulawayo.
Known as Bonnie Bonnie or Queen Bonnie the Original, Sithole served Iyasa from its inception in 2000 when she joined the likes of Sandra Ndebele, Nomathamsanqa “Nkwali” Mkhwananzi, Roben Mlauzi and Futurelove Sibanda.
Fellow dancers and artistes yesterday mourned the loss of Sithole.
Award-winning dance crew, Ezimnyama Arts wrote on their social media page: “On behalf of Ezimnyama Arts Family and the Bulawayo Arts community, we would like to send our deepest condolences to the Iyasa and Sithole family for the passing on of Sibonisiwe, we call her NaJohnnie. We sympathise with you in this difficult phase of life. May we all find comfort. Rest in Power Queen B the Original.”
Sithole’s friend Amanda Ndlovu, who trained with her at Amakhosi Theatre, said she was shocked and devastated after receiving the news.
“My bestie, since 1996,” she said. “She was always cheerful and we never quarrelled. It was always laughter all the way. I am broken and torn apart as noone will fill her void. I will miss you much.”
Another dance crew, Banyana Bafana said: “The arts industry will never be the same again. Rest in peace Sibonisiwe Sithole. It’s very painful to lose loved ones, it cuts deeply into the heart. Sithole’s and Iyasa family, may you be soothed by the Almighty during this dark moment. Farewell Bonnie, your star is now shining in a better world.”