Tragedy has struck both Newcastle and South Africa, with the untimely passing of Olpha Selepe, better known as Gee Six Five.
She recently became an overnight success, after her song Obani Lababantu went viral. According to a statement released on Gee Six Five’s Twitter page, she had been self-isolating after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Monday, 7 December.
As the community mourns her passing, which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning, 9 December 2020, the statement issued by Gee Six Five’s niece, Sbu Mpungose, reminds people that the proud Newcastillian was a leader throughout her life. The 65-year-old retired teacher had an illustrious career as a primary school principal, later heading up Northdale TVET College in Pietermaritzburg. She also did a stint teaching abroad in the United Kingdom.
As an intellectual individual, she completed her master’s degree in 2018 at the age of 63. At the time of her death, she had been pursuing a doctoral degree. Mpungose adds, “Her love for music began while training at a teachers’ college, and she went on to be a highly decorated choir conductor performing in both regional and national competitions.”
She was also an active member of the Regina Coeli Catholic Church in Madadeni, Newcastle, where she lived.
Prior to her hit song, Obani Lababantu, which proved to be a major hit on both social media and music-buying platforms, Selepe also produced a music album comprised of children’s nursery rhymes in isiZulu.
She leaves behind three children, several grandchildren, her sister, as well as nephews and nieces.
Following her tragic passing, Newcastle Mayor, Cllr Dr Ntuthuko Mahlaba now sends his deepest condolences to Selepe’s family.
He remarks, “uMama u-Selepe was indeed a cut above the rest, and has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that she was indeed the epitome of excellence. Through her music and academic background, she has taught us that we are capable of defying the odds, challenging the status quo and breaking all boundaries. It is very evident that Mrs Selepe’s illustrious musical career was yet to reach new heights and blossom. The community of Newcastle and the music fraternity has been robbed of a songbird, who will be remembered in years to come.”
As sad as her passing is, the mayor calls upon South Africans at large to emulate Selepe’s resilience and hunger for education. He emphasises, “Gee Six Five has proven to us all that it is never too early or too late to start anything worthwhile in life. Those who knew her will tell you that she always beamed in excitement whenever she passionately articulated her love for academia and music.”
Pixelfish Marketing and the Newcastillian – Online News offers its condolences to Olpha Selepe’s family.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer