After having been in hospital since last week Friday, the actress has passed away at 77.
Nomhle Nkonyeni's family have confirmed that she passed away in the early hours of this morning, according to SowetanLIVE. Her passing comes just two months after President Cyril Ramaphosa awarded her with the Order of the Ikhamanga in silver, for her lifelong contribution to the performing arts.
Nkonyeni was one of the most awarded actresses in South Africa and understandably so. Her acting career, which spanned over 50 years, saw her take up roles in numerous theatrical productions, local television series such as Scandal, Igazi and Gaz'lam as well as the 2004 feature film, Red Dust.
Her debut role in the play Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena which took place at the Cape Performing Arts Board (Capab) theater in Cape Town, saw her becoming the first Black woman to ever set foot on that stage during what was then Apartheid-era South Africa. Speaking about that historic moment, Nkonyeni said, "I was the first Black person to perform on that stage and when that door opened, I never shut it."
In 2016, she received the lifetime achievement award from the South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs). Nkonyeni had aspirations of eventually opening up her own performing arts academy in New Brighton, a township in the Eastern Cape province—her hometown. Nkonyeni said, "It's my dream to leave a legacy behind. I don't want God to ask me when I get up there what I've done with the talent He's given me."
Tributes and condolences have been pouring in on social media since the news of her passing.