|Resting place||Lady Stanley Cemetery|
|Education||Mzilikazi High School|
|Spouse(s)||Lenny Gwata (Late)|
Beatar Mangethe Khumalo was a Zimbabwean musician. Born in Bulawayo, she was a talented singer and actress who was widely known for her hit single I come from Makokoba which became an anthem in Matabeleland, as well her role as Thuli on the local drama Stitsha. She died in June 2010
Beatar first wanted to be a sports star as she loved football and netball passionately. She went to Stanley Square and joined the netball team which was used by Amakhosi to condition actresses while the actors underwent karate training. Later on in her career, her love for sports would lead veteran playwright Sihlangu Dlodlo who would pen a television script based on the character of a young Mangethe, a carefree, sports loving girl from Makokoba. When she saw her counterparts like Zenzo Nyathi already training for drama and theatre, she joined them. Cont Mhlanga saw potential in her as an artist which is how the idea of Hlengiwe’s character, which was based on Beater’s life was brought to mind. He became her mentor and creative director.
The guys who did netball and karate would meet up when it was time for dance and that is where the cast of Stitsha was born. Even though she was an avid sports lover, Mangethe did not like Mhlanga’s notoriously rigorous training exercises, which led to her being overlooked for the main role in the theatre version of Stitsha. She was also lazy on actual training for acting thus Amakhosi could not use her for the theatre production which required a lot of dance and singing. Joyce Mpofu was chosen for the role.
Beatar Mangethe was a creation of Amakhosi. Her real surname was Khumalo but Cont decided that her real surname would not work in showbiz as there was already a Lelethi Khumalo in South Africa. She would seem like a cheap copycat if she stuck to her real surname. For two weeks she tried to find a totem that would work for her and Cont rejected the first two that she brought. In the end, they settled for Mangethe.
Beatar was an amazing television actress. She was beautiful and her face was smooth and the camera loved her. Her sterling display on her small screen debut made her an instant star, with local audiences falling in love with her after her convincing portrayal of a young and provocative Thuli. It was to take over a decade for her to realise her lifelong ambition of becoming a music star.
Cont struggled to get Beatar to take acting seriously. “Initially Beatar’s passion was not acting but singing. That is what she loved the most. However, I told her that her voice was not good and she needed to do a lot of voice training. For over half-a-year we worked on her and it was not easy at all,” said Mhlanga.
Beatar struggled to get her sound. When she brought Cont a Jazz song, he threw it into the fire at Amakhosi. She was angry and didn’t speak to him for weeks. He told her she was township girl and she needs to bring that out. ‘Musicians are made by one hit song,’ he told her. It took her 2 years to come up with one. The success of the track, a one of a kind anthem that captured the style and spirit of the city’s oldest township, was bittersweet as it went on to have a negative impact on her life in the long run. According to Mhlanga, the bright lights of superstardom blinded even Mangethe, a stunning actress who had been in the limelight for over a decade.
The show at the Large City Hall was the beginning of the end. She organised a show at the City Hall and Cont fought her on it because he felt like she needed to grow her audience gradually in small venues. Instead, she put everything she had on that show. When it flopped it destroyed her. It was the end of her. She tried to do what Cont had told her later on but it was too late. “I had told her to collaborate with other artistes and she was doing that and I believe by now she would be one of the country’s biggest artistes. Unfortunately life had other ideas,” said Mhlanga.
Beatar died 2 months after her husband, ex-footballer Lenny Gwata, passed away. She was 32 and survived by son Wesley Gwata. Dlodlo, who had adopted Mangethe because of his relationship with her father, Msongelwa Khumalo, remembers the pain and heartbreak of those last days. “When she was helplessly sick on her bed, she could call me anytime and start crying without saying a word. When she died I was just going through the motions as I admitted it was God’s will to take her. I adopted Beatar as my own child because I had a strong connection with her father. Her passing blew away a lot of people,” Dlodlo said.