‘A beacon of hope’: Friends and family remember Ntunja

Late SuperSport broadcaster Kaunda Ntunja’s life was celebrated in a memorial service broadcast on social media on Thursday evening.

Ntunja, the former SA Schools captain, Cheetahs player and SuperSport Xhosa commentator, sadly passed away on Monday, 19 July.

Among those who paid tribute to Ntunja was his long-time commentary partner and legend of non-racial rugby in the Eastern Cape, Makhaya Jack.

‘It is with a very great, sad heart and regret that I could not be able to be physically present on your final send-off,’ Jack said. ‘However, I know you will understand. I am very pleased that we were both able to find and make time for each other, for constantly having those friendly, educating, humorous and sometimes touching conversations to each other.

‘You are a beacon of hope to many in the rugby fraternity, in identifying, growing, developing and promoting the game of rugby throughout your scintillating voice,’ Jack added about Ntunja. ‘Your passion and spirit to drive, to make a difference, to force changes in stereotypes in the rugby circles. Your God-given talent and your passion was absolutely immeasurable and cannot be equated in any form.’

WATCH: Ntunja introduces Kolisi as Springbok captain

Sports pundit Robert Marawa, who alongside Thando Manana and Lawrence Sephaka, appeared alongside Ntunja in a weekly Room Dividers radio show, called Ntunja ‘Mr Rugby’ in his tribute.

‘One thing I will always respect about Kaunda was his ability to always ask, his ability to double-check that what he was doing was right, especially for black rugby,’ Marawa said.

‘He was Mr Rugby personified. He transformed Xhosa commentary and made it something you wanted to listen to. He was an entertainer. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He poured his heart into his rugby commentary. It was different, it was unique and he loved his country. I am honoured to have known him.’

As a rugby player, Ntunja  became the first black African to captain SA Schools and SA U19 in  2000 and 2001, respectively. He also played for the Border U18 side at the Craven Week in 2000 and represented the Sharks, Eastern Province and Lions.

Speaking about Ntunja as a player, Sinethemba Zweni highlighted his tackle-breaking ability as well as his ability to offload the ball in the tackle.

‘Kaunda was a visionary, a visionary who I was grateful to watch,’ Zweni said. ‘I was part of his life and when he was done with rugby, I knew there was another chapter for him and I knew something great was about to happen.’

FROM THE MAGAZINE: Ntunja was a game-changer

Photo: Twitter