SA music executive found dead in his home

He is the owner of Siyandisa Music and a copyright lawyer. Graeme Gilfillan who is widely known for taking the late Miriam Makeba’s two grandchildren Lumumba and Zenzile Lee to court in an attempt to block their access to her intellectual property and the rights to her legacy has died.

According to ZiMoja, his body was discovered at his Yeoville home on Sunday morning.


His niece, Jessica Gilfillan confirmed the news saying, “Miriam Makeba was one of the artists my uncle helped get royalties for after unfair treatment due to her race. Rest in peace Graeme.” And colleague and friend, Vanessa Perumal also shared the news, “I know lots of my peers and music industry networks have crossed paths. #RIPGraeme.” According to a person present on the scene when his body was being removed from his home, the controversial lawyer is suspected to have died of a heart attack and was discovered by his driver on Sunday when he struggled to reach him. “The driver had been calling him and he could not reach him. He then showed up at his home on Sunday only to find him dead. His family and close friends have been informed, and an official statement will be made later today. But this is sad, he was all alone, and no one deserves that kind of departure.”


Graeme is known for making controversial headlines. In 2018 Mariam Makeba’s family won the rights to her music over the former business manager. Graeme took the late South African legend’s two grandchildren to court in an attempt to block their access to her intellectual property and the rights to her legacy. His music company moved to maintain full ownership of her name, also attempting to prevent the South African Hall of Fame from inducting the singer without written approval from his company. They argued that Miriam had taken steps during her career to commercialise her catalogue even after her death, an agreement that the family claimed was fictitious.


In 2010, Gaeme and Chicco Twala were involved in a scuffle. The music producer and Brenda’s former manager hurled insults at Graeme who worked with the star before her death in 2004. “I’ll moer (beat up) you and I don’t care if I get arrested,” Chicco told him. Chicco challenged an order that he pay R3-million into Fassie’s estate after the executor had filed a lawsuit against him and Graeme was the business investigator in the case. He allegedly worked with Brenda since 1997, when she approached him to help investigate her history in the music industry. Chicco accused Graeme of getting R50 000 a month from Brenda’s estate while her son Bongani was not getting anything and was homeless. This is a developing story.

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