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‘Malinga was one of SA’s few artists to depart financially well off’

2018-01-07 09:54
Robbie Malinga
Robbie Malinga. (Photo: Supplied/City Press)

Johannesburg - Music maestro Robbie Malinga is one of the few deceased artists in Mzansi who did not die a pauper.

This week, City Press spoke to three of his close friends, all veterans in the music industry.

While they refused to reveal details of the acclaimed producer’s financial affairs, they insisted that his wife Ann and two children would not struggle to make ends meet.

The three sources said Malinga did not come cheap.

Apparently, he would charge about R300 000 to compose and produce a song for other artists.

Although this was not his standard fee – as each deal was negotiated separately – his booking fee amounted to no less than R90 000.

One source said it was hard to put a price tag on Malinga, who died at his family home in Johannesburg’s northern suburb of Dainfern in Fourways on Christmas Day, having suffered from pancreatic cancer.

“All we know is that he was a business executive and was financially sound. He owned his music catalogue and co-owned his master recordings with record label Universal Music SA.

"He was also an in-house producer for the company, which is unusual for artists in Mzansi,” the source said.

Karabo Motijoane, the general manager of Sheer Publishing, worked closely with Malinga for 12 years on the music publishing side.

She told City Press on Friday that Malinga had been one of the country’s top songwriters and was paid royalties twice a year.

“There was never a year in which he was broke. He was stable and always worked on albums that did well,” Motijoane said.

Although Malinga often dressed up to the nines, he did not only spend his money on expensive clothes, cars and booze, but also invested it, said a business associate.

In this way, he differed from many of his peers, notably these artists:

- Kwaito star Senyaka “Moruti wa Tsotsi” Kekana died of pneumonia three years ago. His family had to ask for donations for his funeral. Apparently, he blew all his money at the height of his fame.

- Another departed kwaito star, Brown Dash – whose real name was Siphiwe Mpamile and who died in 2012 – was rumoured to have left this world with only the clothes on his back.

- Actor Ray Ntlokwana, popularly known for his lead role in the 1990s SABC1 sitcom Velaphi, died penniless in 2002, prompting his peers to set up a bank account to cover his funeral costs.

In Malinga’s case, Sheer Publishing did all the administration work to secure his intellectual property, which included songwriting and composition.

It also ensured that he got paid royalties under his record label, Insimbi Music.

Malinga went on to establish an additional record company, Robbie Malinga Entertainment.

Malinga was constantly in demand, especially recently, following his 2016 collaboration with Musa Sukwene on the smash hit, Mthande.

He produced Zahara’s hit album Loliwe and was known for his collaborations with various artists, including Afro-jazz singer Naima Kay, Kelly Khumalo and Idols winner Karabo Mogane.

“It was Robbie’s time. He got a winning formula even right at the end of his music career,” said Oscar Mlangeni, one of the icon’s close friends.

“He released songs that people young and old could relate to. That’s what made him one of the best producers and musicians of all time.

"It is also why everything he touched turned to gold.”


FANS PROMPT TOMBSTONE REDESIGN

- In response to complaints posted on social media by Malinga’s fans about his R500 000 tombstone, Bataung Memorials will remove the 7-ton statue and tombstone.

- Posts on Twitter pointed to the life-size statue’s lack of resemblance to Malinga.

- Lebohang Khitsane, the chief executive of Bataung Memorials, told City Press on Friday that the statue would be redesigned.

- He blamed the family for giving him old pictures of the iconic singer-songwriter and producer, saying the statue had been modelled on a younger Malinga.

- Instead of defending his work, he chose to listen to the fans and promised to remould it.

- The company has set itself a deadline of two weeks to complete the work.

- Khitsane, who has been in the tombstone business for 14 years and has a staff complement of 80, said: “We were given Robbie’s old pictures and we worked on them to design the statue.

- If you look at his photos, he has changed a lot over the years. This is why people are saying it is not him. We will redesign the statue using a recent picture.”

- Bataung Memorials is popular for designing extraordinary tombstones for prominent people such as Vuyo Mbuli, Gugu Zulu, Mandoza and Dumi Masilela.

- In March last year, the company made headlines after it temporarily removed actor Joe Mafela’s tombstone, designed as a replica of a TV lounge.

- At the time, the company explained that the soil had to settle to accommodate the 6-ton tombstone properly.

- Asked who commissioned and paid for Malinga’s statue, Khitsane would only say that the information was confidential.

- Khitsane said he did not only work with prominent people and that his company also accommodated ordinary people who had small budgets.

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