South Africa’s premier sports broadcaster, SuperSport, has expressed its deepest condolences to the family of Kaunda Ntunja, following the popular commentator’s passing on Monday.
News of Ntunja’s death was confirmed by his sister Tando on social media on Monday morning.
Following the end of his rugby playing career in 2008, Ntunja became an award-winning rugby commentator, with his emotive Xhosa commentary providing a proudly South African feel-good factor to rugby broadcasts.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, sports broadcast giant and Ntunja’s employer, SuperSport, released a statement in tribute to the 38-year-old, expressing its sympathy with his family.
SuperSport sadly mourns the passing away of leading rugby commentator and presenter Kaunda Ntunja. Our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
A hulking rugby forward, with a personality to match his size, big-hearted Kaunda made friends wherever he went.
‘The SuperSport family is devastated,’ said Gideon Khobane, SuperSport chief executive. ‘Kaunda was larger than life, a generous, warm-hearted man who cared deeply for the game he loved and the people within. He will be terribly missed by us all.’
Apart from Kaunda’s rugby prowess, he had a creative bent which saw him enter the world of television production, where he was both successful and prominent.
He made a seamless transition to television presenting and was energised by the potential of isiXhosa commentary on SuperSport. He became famous for his unbridled enthusiasm and unique spin on commentary, something that endeared him to television watchers.
He had strident views on transformation and was in many ways a pioneer for black rugby, having become the first black captain of SA Schools while playing for Dale College 20 years ago.
At the time he was a robust, charismatic flanker who was feared throughout the Eastern Cape. His charisma extended to him standing in front of a grandstand full of the opposition’s support, pointing a finger at them and letting them know they were in for a long afternoon.
Sadly, injury meant that his career, which included junior rugby at the Sharks, and first-class rugby at the Cheetahs, Lions and Border, never quite took off.
Fortunately he was approached to do isiXhosa commentary while injured in 2009. He never looked back, proving to be an orator of unique skill. He won several national awards for broadcasting.
A creative type, having studied drama and theatre, he made his acting debut in the local drama Grassroots last year, playing a mentor to a young rugby player who moves from the Eastern Cape to Johannesburg on a scholarship.
Lala ngoloxolo, Zizi.
Photo: Gallo Images