Cape Town opera singer James Bhemgee took his final bow on Saturday when hundreds of mourners came to pay their respects at his funeral.
Not even the heavy rainfall could deter 300 mense from filling the Orion Church International in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain.
As the late SA’s Got Talent Season 2 winner’s brown casket was wheeled down a red carpet into the church, family members, the community and some local celebs broke into tears.
Bhemgee, 57, died on June 22 at his home in Rocklands after being sick in bed for two days.
Local jazz and hip hop star Dean “D’Low” Louw, was one of the many people who paid tribute to Bhemgee, reports Weekend Argus.
D’Low described Bhemgee as a man of the community, someone who never thought twice about helping out.
“His fame never went to his head, and even though he was a vibrant person he was also a very kind-hearted, soft person.
“I remember when he came to my house, I told him to eat, there is a lot of meat and he said no, he wants to rather take home to people in the community who don’t have, that’s the type of person he was.”
He said James was also an ambassador for the Dean Louw Foundation.
“Other artists turned me down but he didn’t, he used to say “ons sing vir kos” and would do shows hoping people would put food in the trolley to feed others, he did all this even though he himself was travelling to the shows by taxi.”
D’Low ended off his tribute by singing a song written for Bhemgee named “Thank you James.”
Bhemgee’s brother, Pastor Alfonso Schilder, led the funeral service and said hearing all the stories about his brother only made him realise how much the community really meant to him.
“James had so many opportunities to stay in Europe and the US, but he chose to come back here to make a difference, that’s all he wanted to do,” he says.“He gave up all that to come back to our community.”
Schilder quoted from the Bible and said that the Lord gave Bhemgee to the community and the Lord took him back for himself.
Bhemgee was buried at the Klip Road Cemetery.