JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Tributes have been pouring in for the late musician Dan Tshanda, who died aged 54 on Saturday.

The hitmaker, famed for his work with Splash, Matshikos and Dalom Kids, suffered a heart attack, according to his family.

South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said Tshanda’s music had been embraced across the continent.

“I’m deeply saddened by the news of the passing of legendary musician Dan Tshanda. An icon and music maestro of note, his music crossed borders uniting fans from all over the continent. His legacy and contribution in elevating Tshivenda music will never be forgotten,” Mthethwa said.

Singer Arthur Mafokate said he had been inspired by Tshanda’s music from an early age.

“I used to walk to your house as a kid wanting to make it in the industry. Soweto has lost a legend, Chiawelo has lost its son #RIPDanTshanda,” Mafokate said on Twitter.

Tshanda had been taken to hospital with a possible lung ailment just four days before his death.

“He had an X-Ray done on his lungs and he received medication. He was not really sick, so it came as a surprise,” said family spokesperson Moudy Modzielwana.

“He was on his way to hospital for results of the X-Ray when he suffered a heart failure. He was driven to the Sandton Mediclinic where he was declared dead.”

On his Twitter feed, his last tweet was sent out on January 3 wishing all his fans and supporters a safe journey back to their destinations after the holidays and urging people not to drink and drive.

In tweets before that, Tshanda had spoken about his last performance in Durban and was looking forward to enjoying December with his family. He also tweeted that there were great things in the pipeline for Dalom Music, his record label.

In a career spanning three decades, Tshanda was the man behind the popular sounds of Patricia Majalisa, Dalom Kids and Splash among many others. He was famed for hits like Lufuno, Mina Nawe and Emhlabeni.

One of his last released projects was a collaboration with kwaito king Professor – a remake of Splash’s hit song, Troubled Man.

He leaves behind his wife and three children.

Memorial service and funeral arrangements will be made public in the week.