Fresh details emerge of what led to Ivan Ssemwanga’s heart attack, which claimed his life


A close family member of Ivan Ssemwanga has revealed that the flashy businessman, who was known for a lively personality, looked troubled a few days before he checked himself into a South African hospital, where he later passed on due to heart-related complications.

The insider, who spoke to a Ugandan news outlet, said Ivan, whose last party was a Blankets and Wine event held in the capital Kampala nearly three weeks ago, looked distraught throughout the festival.

The informant revealed that Ivan Ssemwanga only took a soft drink and fish at the festival, unlike his previous celebrations, where he would imbibe far too many top-shelf liquors.

“Prior to his hospitalisation, Ivan looked disturbed; and that was evident from his changed eating habits. As days went by, his appetite reduced the more, causing his health to decline,” said the source.

The insider further divulged that Ivan Ssemwanga suffered a heart attack when he jetted into Kampala from South Africa and discovered that one of his huge tracts of land had been grabbed.

“The private developer(s) had, through relevant authorities, changed the land ownership from Ivan to them without Ivan’s knowledge. The parcel of land was indeed Ivan’s; and he had a title deed to prove the same. The private developers had also acquired applicable documents,” said the informant.

The source added that Ivan’s attempts to repossess the parcel of land were unsuccessful, triggering a heart attack and cluster headaches, which ended up being fatal.

“Prior to his hospitalisation, his health extremely deteriorated following the shocker,” said the informant.

The source further said reports had surfaced a few weeks ago, claiming that Ivan Ssemwanga had gone broke and was forced to put on sale his palatial Munyonyo home in Kampala so as to maintain his flashy lifestyle.

Ivan, who at the time was going through a turbulent phase following the grabbing of his parcel of land, used a lot of energy and resources to debunk claims that he had gone broke, further worsening his health condition, said the informant.

“When Ivan realised that his condition was not improving, he booked a flight to South Africa, where he checked himself into Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria. Tests run on him showed that he had suffered a heart attack that had caused blood to freeze in his veins. He was admitted to the intensive care unit of the medical facility, but sadly Ivan died on Thursday morning (May 25),” said the source.

Zari Hassan, Ivan Ssemwanga’s ex-wife, broke news about his death on Instagram on Thursday morning.

The Ugandan businesswoman wrote: “You (Ivan) have touched and helped thousands, you did wonders; and I remember you telling me: ‘Life is too short let me live it to the fullest’. This very dark hour it makes sense why you always said those words to me. To your sons, you were a hero-some kind of superman. Anyone who has ever been in your presence knows what a charming person you were. You will be missed and remembered in so many ways. You were Ivan the great! Rest in peace, Don.”

Zari Hassan and Ivan Ssemwanga, who passed on aged 39, broke up in November, 2014 after 12 years of marriage. The two have three sons Pinto, Quincy and Raphael, who were all in Ivan’s custody by the time of demise.

Zari Hassan is currently dating top Tanzanian artiste, Diamond Platnumz, with whom they have two children together – a son and daughter.

According to Herbert Luyinda, an uncle of the deceased, the return of Ssemwanga’s body from Pretoria, South Africa is scheduled for Sunday, May 28.

“We shall have a wake here (Muyenga), a church service at St. Paul’s Cathedral Namirembe and burial will be on Tuesday, May 30, in Kayunga,” he told Uganda’s New Vision.

Luyinda described Ssemwanga as a humble person, who supported a number of their family members.


Born on December 12, 1977 in Kayunga district, Ssemwanga left for South Africa to find his footing in 2002, transiting through Zambia. He reportedly settled in Pretoria.

Not much is known about how Ssemwanga acquired his wealth, with various accounts suggesting he was one of the Sangomas (native healers) who targeted rich clientele, but other reports say he operated a string of schools in South Africa that he inherited from a white couple he previously worked for.

For one who lived a hi-octane nocturnal life, especially when in Kampala, he did not have many encounters with the law, says New Vision.

However, in December 2015, he was arrested on suspicion of phone theft and booked at Jinja Road Police Station under a case filed under number: GEF/110/2015.

A businessman and car dealer, Gadhafi Sadat Serusiba, a close friend of Diamond, accused Ivan of stealing his IPhone 6, $6,000 (Ksh620, 000), Ksh86, 000 and a wrist watch valued at Ksh86, 000. This was after Ssemwanga ordered his minders to beat Serusiba to pulp for invading his privacy.

The two settled the case out of court.

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