Nichume’s suicide: shocked loved ones react
Singer Nichume seemed to have her depression under control – so it came as a huge shock when she jumped to her death
EVERYONE thought she was fine. She seemed to have her depression under control and was taking her medication. Then the unthinkable happened. Nichume Siwundla took her own life by jumping off the balcony of a friend’s second-floor flat in Greenstone, Johannesburg, devastating her loved ones and shattering her fans.
The singer’s brother, Qamani (29), says the family are taking her death hard and her sisters, Buhle (23) and Nisi (5), “aren’t handling it well at all”.
“At the moment we’re working on making sure my sister has a beautiful send-off. My parents are trying to stay strong but she was their everything.
“All we ask is for people to give us a bit of time to let the news sink in.”
Then he adds, “I guess we have another angel watching over us now.”
Nichume (27) was fast becoming a household name following the release of the hit song Bhutiza with Mobi Dixon. The pair also worked together on another banger, Visa, and had plans for so much more, says Top Chad Media boss Mobi who’d helped to establish Nichume in the music business.
He’s gutted by her death and will live with a number of regrets, he tells DRUM.
“Nichume and I were like brother and sister. I didn’t have to speak to her every day [ to feel close to her] and sometimes we’d go a month without talking. But I thought she was fine.”
Mobi has been racking his brain wondering what happened that day.
“Did she die on the spot? Did she suffer? Was she in pain? These are the questions I keep asking myself.
“All I heard is that she was at a gettogether with friends and jumped from the second floor.”
He knew Nichume had been battling depression but, like many close to her, thought she had it under control.
However, the demons of darkness clearly had her in too tight a grip.
NICHUME at first hid her depression from him. “I found out when her parents phoned me to say they were worried about her,” Mobi recalls. “She wasn’t doing well and they
‘She sings about her worries being washed away’
wanted me to check up on her and see if she was taking her meds.”
After that he tried to check up on her as much as he could.
“But we never spoke much about it,” he admits. “When we did it was always on a professional level, and she seemed like she was doing okay. But that clearly wasn’t the case.”
In her final days, Mobi says, Nichume became distant and closed. He hadn’t seen her since May when they had a meeting to plan the release of her album and to put together strategies for her brand for the rest of 2019.
“When I asked her about the depression she said it was all under control. She even went to see her therapist the same day for her weekly session.”
He took it for granted that she was taking care of herself, but “right now I’m here wishing I’d done more”.
Nichume had been on the bill to perform at the recent South African Music Awards but her performance was cancelled without explanation at the last minute, Mobi says.
“She was hacked off that she couldn’t sing there. I think it may have made her feel like she was failing, but that wasn’t the case. She wasn’t failing. We had a plan.”
Once again he laments the fact he didn’t do more for his friend.
“I wish I’d dug deeper and opened up about my depression as well and shared my stories.”
Mobi met Nichume in her hometown, East London, in 2011 at a time when he was on medication for depression and seeing a therapist, so he would’ve been able to relate to what she was going through.
Now it’s too late.
SHE wanted to heal people through her music, Nichume told DRUM’s sister magazine Move! just days before her death. She worked as an ophthalmic technician before becoming a full-time musician a few years ago. Nichume had to give up her day job when her career took off, something she thought would never happen so fast.
“I’m truly blessed,” she said. “There are people who work for many years to be where I am today.”
Mobi recalls how they started working together and recorded their first single, Far Away, in 2011.
“I loved her writing and delivery. Her writing was deep and had something spiritual about it,” he says.
However the song didn’t do too well on the airwaves and Nichume left East London to go to Stellenbosch University. “We didn’t see one another again until 2017.”
By then his career had long kicked off and his brand was fully established.
“I wanted her to join my company. I wanted to make her a star because she was very talented.”
She arrived at his studio with her cousin, singer Ma Nala, whose brother is singer Anatii.
“We decided there and then that we would work together.”
They became close. “It turned out that our parents were childhood friends and I was already friends with her brother Qamani, so we became like family. But there were things she kept a secret from me because she also wanted to seem professional.”
As someone who suffers from depression, Mobi understands what she might’ve been going through. One of the things she was having trouble with was her weight.
“I was on the same medication as her, and I knew it made you gain weight.
“So instead of the meds making her feel better, she felt worse because she became insecure about her body.”
Nichume had already recorded almost half the songs for her upcoming album.
Her latest track, Camagu featuring Anga Makubalo aka NaakMusiQ, had started to make waves on social media. In this song Nichume sings about culture and not forgetting our roots.
“The irony in that song is so strange for me,” Mobi says.
“She sings about her worries being washed away. Coming out of the darkness into the light. Having no more stresses and no more worries. It’s as if she knew.”
They’ll now wait for her family to decide what to do with the album.
“All I know is I have a responsibility to keep her name alive. She’s not coming back, but her music will be here forever.”
ABOVE: Nichume with her big brother, Qamani Siwundla. BELOW: The singer’s parents are devastated. BOTTOM: Nichume worked with DJ Mobi Dixon (far right) on her latest album, which was set for release in a few months. She recently released the song Camagu with NaakMusiQ (far left).