Thami Shobede’s death shocked the country on Thursday afternoon and the news hit Lungisa Xhamela harder than most

He and Thami struck up a strong friendship as Idols S12 finalists.

Lungisa and Thami both made it to the top 8 of SA Idols back in 2015 and, although neither of them managed to win the hotly contested singing show, they gained something even more valuable: an inseparable friendship.

The singers remained close for years after the competition and up until Thami’s sudden death, they had even planned on recording music together.

So you can imagine the shock when Lungisa learned the devastating news on Thursday that his close friend was no more. The 27-year old spoke to TshisaLive this week and revealed how, despite knowing of Thami’s illness, he did not expect to lose his friend this week.

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He said to the publication, “I didn’t take it seriously. I thought he would be fine. I didn’t know what was going on, only that he didn’t feel well.”

Lungisa also spoke about the fact that he was with Thami just a few weeks before his untimely death before revealing their plans to link up on new material in the near future

The heartbroken singer added, “We were laughing and chilling together. I was telling him how much I love his music and he was telling me how we need to work together. I wish I had made time for that, so I could be in the studio with him one last time.”

Thami narrowly lost the Idols 2015 crown to Karabo Mogane, but when he learned of his fellow-finalist’s death, Karabo poured his heart out in an interview with Sowetan.

“I met Thami in 2015 we were in same Idols season. Ever since then we’ve performed in different stages together and we’ve been supporting one another in our musical endeavours. I’m really sad to hear that he’s gone. I pray that his family be comforted by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ through this trying time.”

Thami was hospitalised with an unnamed illness this past weekend after collapsing on stage

At that point it was believed that he would make it out alive but after a short stay in hospital, the singer was pronounced dead on Thursday through a statement by his record label, Gallo Records.

Not only was the singer from Mtubatuba in KwaZulu-Natal a national talent but he was a well-liked media personality too. Tributes from across the industry have been pouring in for the late 31-year-old:

We are currently awaiting details of Thami’s memorial service and upcoming funeral but send our condolences to Thami’s family and friends during this tough time.