SA rugby community celebrates the life of Kaunda Ntunja

Friends, family and colleagues of Kaunda Ntunja celebrated his life on Thursday night, in a memorial service for the former elite rugby player and popular commentator.

Ntunja, a former SA Schools captain who played for the Cheetahs before becoming one of the country’s most respected rugby analysts, died on Monday. He was 38.

Ntunja ahead of a Currie Cup match for the Cheetahs in 2004. Picture: Gallo Images

Well known sports pundit Robert Marawa referred to Ntunja as “Mr Rugby”. He would often appear on Marawa’s weekly radio show, Room Dividers, along with Thando Manana and Lawrence Sephaka.

“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 of Ntunja’s contribution to the game.

“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.”

Ntunja in action for the SA Schools team at Loftus in August 1999. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

Former Cheetahs teammate Sinethemba Zweni spoke of Ntunja’s ability to break tackles and his offloading skills on the field, as well as his subsequent transition into commentary.

“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.”

Springbok World Cup winners Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mpimpi also paid tribute to Ntunja in a recorded message played during the memorial.

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