Mpumalanga government grants a special funeral for Ray Phiri

Ray Phiri. Picture: Supplied

He died at a hospital in Mbombela, aged 70, on Wednesday morning, after a battle with lung cancer.

Late veteran musician Ray Chikapa Phiri will have a special funeral in Mpumalanga, acting Premier Refilwe Mtsweni said on Wednesday.

Mtsweni’s spokesman Zibonele Mncwango wrote on his Facebook page that Mtsweni made the announcement shortly after she was sworn in as acting premier of the province in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Mncwango later told the African News Agency (ANA) that the provincial government decided to grant Phiri a special funeral because “he deserved it”.

“Phiri was a music legend who contributed greatly to the South African arts industry,” said Mncwango.

“The government will cover all the costs for the funeral. The acting premier and other members of the executive will visit Phiri’s family tomorrow [Thursday] morning at his home in Mbombela. The arrangements for the funeral will be taken from there and more details about the funeral will be communicated in due course.”

Premier David Mabuza was currently on a short leave until next week, added Mncwango. Mtsweni was MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs before she was sworn in as acting premier.

Phiri died at a hospital in Mbombela, aged 70, on Wednesday morning, after a battle with lung cancer. He was admitted to the hospital two weeks ago.

Phiri was a jazz, fusion and Mbaqanga musician who also founded a soul music group called the Cannibals in the 1970s. He founded the group Stimela (Steam Train) when the Cannibals disbanded. Phiri worked with a number of music artists on a number of songs and musical projects including the late Daniel Matijoane, who was affectionately known as Nana Coyote in music circles.

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