Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has paid tribute to respected rugby commentator, Kaunda Ntunja, who passed away on Monday morning.
The department has described Ntunja, who was 38, as someone who was extremely instrumental in broadcasting professional rugby using the isiXhosa language.
“The passing of Kaunda Ntunja has left an indomitable void which will be difficult to replace, especially with reference to his energy when giving rugby commentary in isiXhosa. In my eyes, he goes down as one of the best sports anchors to have graced our living rooms,” Mthethwa said in a statement.
The Minister has expressed his heartfelt condolences to the Ntunja family, SuperSport, and all his acquaintances.
“May his soul rest in eternal peace.”
SuperSport Chief Executive Gideon Khobane said they were devastated.
“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,” Khobane said.
According to SuperSport, he made a seamless transition to television presenting and was energized 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 is also revered for his views on transformation and for being a pioneer for black rugby, having become the first black captain of SA Schools while playing for Dale College 20 years ago, the channel said.
“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.”
However, an injury cut his career short, which included junior rugby at the Sharks, and first-class rugby at the Cheetahs, Lions, and Border.
“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.”
He was a colorful character who studied drama and theatre and 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. – SAnews.gov.za