Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has praised entertainer Koyo Bala who died of cancer last week.
Bala, 37, was best known for his part in the ground-breaking openly gay Afro-pop group 3Sum.
“Bala was a treasure to South Africa. His passing leaves a gaping hole in our entertainment industry,” commented Mthethwa.
“There are no words to express how we grieve for losing this young and energetic soul,” the Department of Arts and Culture said in a statement on Thursday.
Bala was born in Gugulethu outside Cape Town. He moved to Johannesburg where he was determined to make a name for himself in the entertainment industry.
In 2002, together with two of his close friends, Jeff Moyo and Amstel Maboa, he formed 3Sum.
Bala, who was HIV positive, was lauded for fighting against the stigma experienced by people living with HIV as well as the LGBT community.
While he had battled cancer for three years his death came as a shock; he had been seen out and about just over a week earlier.
The star died at the the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town on Monday surrounded by his three sisters.
“May his gentle and creative soul rest in peace,” the department said.
Bala is the second member of 3Sum to pass away. Moyo died in 2010 at the age of 33. Maboa is the only surviving member of the group.
A memorial service for Bala will held in Johannesburg on Tuesday 15 March at 3pm at The Baseline in Newtown.
Another memorial will be held in Cape Town on Thursday at the Ikwezi Centre in Gugulethu at 5pm.
Bala’s funeral will be on Saturday 19 March at the Gugulethu Sports Complex at 9am.