18 December 2006

Taliep Petersen murdered

Taliep Petersen is dead. One of South Africa’s most talented song writers and musical producers was shot dead this weekend, after armed robbers forced themselves into his home outside of Cape Town. He was murdered execution style, with one bullet in the neck, while his family was locked up in their bedrooms.

With the murder of Taliep Petersen, South Africa lost a beautiful, sincere and talented person, who was loved by many and recognized all over the world for his work on musicals such as District Six and Ghoema, of which the latter opened in London on December 12, 2006.

I had the honour to speak to this remarkable man earlier this year during an interview conducted for one of my previous employers. What had to be a thirty minute interview, ended in a 1 ½ hour chat with him and his best friend and theatre collaborator David Kramer.

One of the things that we discussed was Taliep’s undying love for District Six. “I grew up in District Six, until the area was declared a white zone by the government,” Taliep recalled. “Me and my family were forcibly removed from our homes, which were flattened and destroyed. This was a very traumatizing event for my family.”

“District Six was once home to a multi-racial community, a vibrant community. It was alive! It had a soul and a spirit!”

“The strangest thing was that no one thought the same would happen in District Six as had happened in other regions of South Africa, as for instance Sophia Town in Johannesburg. The fear was always there, though. Unfortunately, our deepest fears became reality when the bulldozers came. When District Six was demolished, Cape Town lost its heart and soul.”

On the question if Taliep would return to District Six, Taliep replied without hesitating: “I would have moved back yesterday! Everyone who once lived in District Six should be able to go back!”

During the interview, we also talked about Taliep’s background and religion. As a devoted Muslim, Taliep often visited the Kramats in and around Cape Town. “Kramats are important to me because they not only tell a part of the history of Cape Town, but also the history of my people. I visit the Kramats often, with a special group of friends. Soul Satisfaction, that is what I get out of it.”

Taliep loved his wife and children, more than anything in this world. “Home is my favorite place. I love being with my family as I am away very often and I am not home on a regular basis. It is great to spend time with them and going places. To the beach for instance, a great place to spend quality time with my children. I love my family more than anything. They are my pride and joy.”

Miriam Mannak / Africa in the News - Cape Town