Monday, February 2, 2015

Memorial service for Simba Mhere this Thursday, funeral Sunday; Top Billing presenters 'beyond broken' after his death.

A memorial service will be held this week for Simba Mhere, the Top Billing presenter who was killed in a car crash on Saturday morning as his co-presenters on the popular lifestyle show expressed that they're "beyond broken" after his unexpected death this weekend.

Top Billing has also pushed out its already produced episode for this coming Thursday evening on SABC3 and behind the scenes producers at Tswelopele Productions are now working on a new special tribute episode dedicated to Simba Mhere in honour of the presenter "as a final goodbye".

Simba Mhere, who would have been a co-presenter with Top Billing presenter Jonathan Boynton-Lee on the upcoming Presenter Search on 3 looking for three new TV presenters, died when the driver of a VW Polo crashed into the Mitshubishi Simba Mhere was driving in Johannesburg on William Nicol Road near the N1 onramp early Saturday morning.

The driver of the VW Polo was not tested for alcohol and will be charged with reckless and negligent driving and two counts of culpable homicide. Simba Mhere's father who was also in the car survived is now recovering at home.

Edna Mamonyane, Johannesburg Metro police spokesperson said on Monday morning that "this guy [the VW Polo driver] crossed over the middle island and then hit Simba's car from the side." The impact killed Simba who was the driver and the person sitting behind him. 

A memorial service for Simba Mhere will be held this Thursday, 5 February, at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg from 15:00 to 17:00.

Simba Mhere's funeral will take place on Saturday, 7 February at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg at 09:00, and he will be laid to rest at the Westpark Cemetery in Roosevelt Park.

Meanwhile tributes continue to pour in for Simba Mhere with Jonathan Boynton-Lee saying "Can't believe my brother is gone".

Top Billing presenter Jeannie D said "we are beyond broken and sad. Simba who we loved so much! Words fail us at this time but we just pray for his family and friends".

Lorna Lukhele said "words cannot express how shocked I am. Such a sad day to have lost one of the most amazing guys in the industry. At the brink of his career, not even 30. Gone too soon."

Basetsana Kumalo, the executive producer of Top Billing said "As a Top Billing family we're very, very devastated about the passing of Simba. He was an incredible human being, a gentle soul. He was fun and loving, a true hard-working individual, he was always just a delight and a pleasure to be with".

Aisha Mohamed, SABC3 channel head said Simba Mhere "was so real, so humble". "People really felt a connection with him. Always a big smile. Always a big hug. He had a warmness and a presence about him that you will never forget and it resonated on screen but he was also just as real in person".

"For me its just so heartbreaking to think he was on such a rise, and he's gone so soon. He had so much more to give," said Aisha Mohamed

Both of the SABC's two breakfast shows on Monday morning which are produced live, Morning Live on SABC2 and Expresso on SABC3 - which is also produced by Tswelopele Productions - reflected on Simba Mhere's passing and had tributes.

"People fell in love with Simba. He just had such a charismatic, real openness about him," said Expresso presenter Leigh-Anne Williams, close to tears, on Monday morning.

"There's a reason why he was voted among South Africa's best and most popular TV presenters," said Expresso presenter Katlegoe Maboe.

"It's been a sad weekend and we send our condolences out to the family and colleagues of the late Simba Mhere," said Morning Live anchor Leanne Manas on SABC2 Monday morning. "Simba was only 26 years old - his whole life ahead of him. It really is a devastating story."