Cape Town – Top Billing presenter Jonathan Boynton-Lee is set to speak for the first time publicly on Thursday morning on Expresso on SABC3 to share with viewers his grief and sadness over the loss of his "brother" and co-presenter Simba Mhere.
Meanwhile Top Billing is hastily reworking the episode for this coming Thursday night on SABC3 at 20:30, rerecording and recutting it with special tributes and inserts from his TV family, and Mhere’s dad who was also invited to take part in the special hour to honour the late presenter.
His father survived but Mhere and his friend Kady-Shay O’Bryan died on impact.
"They really were like brothers, it wasn't some kind of an act," said a source. "They were both sort of the 'little brother' of each other. At the same time. They would mercilessly rib each other but underneath it they were fiercely protective [of each other]."
"They were both essentially individually hand-picked by Patience through the presenter searches and to this day they felt like they were 'the new ones' who constantly wanted to prove themselves I guess – to their families, to their fans; even to the show, especially Patience.
"For them it was always in a sense 'them' against the world. You saw it every time you saw Simba and Jonathan's fierce work ethic. A really deep-seated need to make those around them proud. And so extremely loyal. Everybody's heartbroken over Simba and also what it's done to Jonathan.
"There's a pervasive sense of loss," said a long time production insider. "This hit everybody hard, especially Patience and Bassie. People are concerned about Jonathan too.”
Special Top Billing to honour SimbaOn Thursday night, after the afternoon’s memorial service at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg at 15:00, Top Billing will broadcast "a tribute to Simba, a celebration of his life and his achievements".
Top Billing presenters like Bonang Matheba and Ursula Chikane, who could barely contain their tears, recorded special tribute messages that will play out on Thursday evening.
"I am still confused and trying to make sense about everything," Bonang Matheba told Channel24 on Monday evening. "No matter how many times you experience the horror that is death, one can never get used to it."
"Death has robbed me of a brother, a colleague, a pillar and a friend. An angel has returned home, leaving us all devastated and confused, but he will always live amongst us, in our hearts. It is still surreal, all dreamy and even shooting the Top Billing tribute link for Thursday didn’t help. I still can’t believe you are gone Big Guy. I will cherish your memory till we meet again," said Matheba.
"It’s just so very hard," said a Tswelopele source. "People here do and create and achieve the impossible. But nobody is able to take the tears and pain away".
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