Beloved South African rugby commentator Kaunda Ntunja has died, his family has confirmed.
The tragic news was related by his sister, Tando, on social media on Monday morning.
“It is with deep sadness that I confirm the passing of our beloved brother Kaunda Ntunja, earlier today in East London, Eastern Cape,” she posted. “As you can imagine, we still trying to make sense of this tragic news and we ask for your love, care and discretion as we prepare to lay my big brother to rest.”
In the message, she also thanks fans of her brother for their love and support of his career but also asked that “you give us a moment to recoup as a family before we update you all with further information”.
During his career, Ntunja played flank and captained the SA Schools side in 2000 while he was also part of the Free State Cheetahs side that won the Currie Cup in 2005.
He also gained popularity as an anchor on SuperSport’s Xhosa commentary team.
His commentatory of Makazole Mapimpi’s try during the Rugby World Cup final win over England gained him worldwide attention as he had everyone saying: “Ibubbly, shampompo, shampizi! Izinto ezihlwahlwazayo!”.
SA Rugby also paid tribute to the well-loved commentator.
Posting on Twitter, they said: “We are deeply saddened at the loss of one of our most-beloved rugby sons, Kaunda Ntunja, who passed away at the age of 38 this morning,” said Mark Alexander, the SA Rugby President.
“He was a true rugby pioneer – the first black African SA Schools captain, a Currie Cup winner and a ground-breaking SuperSport commentator.
“Kaunda left an indelible mark on the local rugby landscape and we will miss seeing his broad smile and hearing his voice at our rugby matches in future – this is a tragic loss, he left us too soon. Our thoughts are with the Ntunja family and all of his friends and colleagues for this terrible loss – the South African rugby community is much poorer without Kaunda Ntunja.”