Friends and family of murdered South African reggae star Lucky Dube have attended his memorial service and a protest march in Johannesburg. A BBC correspondent says there was a near-riot as fans struggled to get into the club where the memorial was held. The singer was gunned down late last week in what police described as a botched car hijacking attempt. Mourners spoke of the cruel irony that an artist who spoke out against crime should himself have been a victim. Lucky Dube was a reggae music icon and one of South Africa’s most loved and respected stars.
Poignant Dube’s song Rastas Never Die was played at the service at a well-known musical venue in central Johannesburg. The BBC’s Peter Greste, at the memorial service, said it was a poignant reminder, if one were needed, of the price South Africans have paid for the levels of violent crime. Among the mourners at the packed service was the president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi, who quoted the lines of Dube’s own song Crime and Corruption. “Do you ever worry about your house being broken into? Do you ever worry about your car being taken away from you? Do you ever worry about leaving home and coming back in a coffin? So join us and fight this,” he said. Coinciding with the memorial was a protest march organised by the Creative Worker’s Union. Their general secretary, Oupa Lebogo, said tackling crime was everyone’s responsibility. “This is a collective effort. We can make a difference if we all work together, and I believe that it is up to individuals that we stop being spectators when wrong things happen in front of us,” he said.
Life celebration South Africa’s crime wave cost an estimated 20,000 lives in the past year. But our correspondent says the memorial was less about protest than it was a traditional African celebration of a life well lived. Dube, 43, was killed on 18 October in a Johannesburg suburb as he dropped off his two teenage children at a relative’s home. Police have arrested five men in connection with the killing. His murder has been lamented by South African President Thabo Mbeki and by thousands of fans across the world. Dube will be buried on Sunday at what the family called a small and dignified ceremony.