Wounded dancer’s career in the balance
Cape Town - The career of a Cape Town ballet dancer may have been cut short by a bullet that lodged in his spine in a shooting in Gugulethu.
Tusile Tenza, 23, a dancer with Cape Town City Ballet, is in Groote Schuur Hospital preparing for surgery.
Friends say he was driving in Gugulethu on Sunday night when the shooting occurred, but the circumstances remain unclear.
Tenza had been preparing for his role in Night & Day, to be staged at Artscape in Cape Town and the Playhouse Theatre in Durban, starting on October 26. The show had a sell-out season in Johannesburg.
Police spokesman Colonel André Traut said police had no record of the incident.
Mervyn Williams, a principal dancer with Cape Town City Ballet, said Tenza was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday to remove the bullet.
Tenza was sedated when Williams went to see him, but managed to crack a smile and give him a thumbs up.
“He had an oxygen mask on and was heavily sedated. He had tubes coming out of his body and a nasogastric tube because he’s not allowed to eat.”
Williams said it had been unusual to see the dancer lying so quietly. “He is always laughing and singing choral songs… he has a very jovial streak.”
Williams said Tenza was too weak to explain what happened on Sunday, but family members had told him Tenza was out with a friend. As they drove down a street in Gugulethu someone started shooting at their car.
“I was completely shattered when I found out and I hope he will be fine.”
Williams said it would be clear only after the surgery whether Tenza would be able to dance again.
Groote Schuur spokesman Alaric Jacobs confirmed Tenza would be going in for surgery on Wednesday, but said the hospital could not release details on his condition without his consent.
Williams said Tenza had admired another Cape Town City Ballet principal dancer, Xola Putye, and wanted to follow in his footsteps.
Putye survived an attempted mugging in Gugulethu two years ago when he was ambushed by two men while returning home.
Putye fought off his attackers but was stabbed in the back and arm in the struggle.