SA's elite bid farewell to black business pioneer

2016-07-09 12:04

Durban – South Africa’s business and political elite gathered at Durban’s Inkosi Albert International Convention centre on Saturday to bid farewell to the pioneer of black business, Don Mkhwanazi.

President Jacob Zuma’s wife Bongi Ngema-Zuma, soccer boss Irvin Khoza, former chief justice Sandile Ndlovu, Durban tycoon Vivian Reddy, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Bheki Cele and his wife, Thembeka, IEC national chairperson Glen Mashinini, and Jimmy Manyi were among those who attended the funeral service which is currently underway.

Friends and family at Mkhwanazi's funeral. (Photos by Amanda Khoza, News24)

Several business people including Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe’s wife, Bridget, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, politicians and members of the Zuma royal monarch were also in attendance.

Mkhwanazi, who was a close ally to President Jacob Zuma, died on July 2 of a suspected heart attack.  

Programme director Moses Tembe, who met Mkhwanazi in 1975, said he was left shocked and devastated when he heard of Mkhwanazi’s passing on July 3.

While greeting guests Tembe singled out Bheki Cele saying he did a great job when he was the National Police Commissioner and that he prayed that he could be returned to the position.

“He did not laugh with the criminals, he did a very impressive job there,” said Tembe much to Cele’s amusement.

A video screened on the bussinesman's life and times was shown. In one clip Mkhwanazi tells a gathering that every black businessman had an Indian assisting them, this had the mourners in stitches.  

Speaking on behalf of Mkhwanazi’s friends, Sipho Ntombela said: “I have known him for almost 46 years. I was honoured to have known a man who had a heart of gold and the wisdom of King Solomon.

“He was a generous man and it should be our responsibility to carry on giving, especially towards education. This should be a habit of our lives, because he was like that.”

Ntobela said Mkhwanazi received phone calls almost on a daily basis from people asking for assistance.

“He was a very forgiving person, he had no grudges, he believed in forgiveness and love at all times. He was not judgemental.”

In the past 10 years, Ntombela said Mkhwanazi invited people from Umlazi and Chesterville to spend Christmas with his family in Hillcrest.

“Carry his legacy,” said Ntombela.

Another friend Zamani Jali, who went to university with Mkhwanazi said he had been many things to him.  

“He was one of the boys we grew up, a fellow student, a confidant, a brother and most importantly, a friend.”

Jali said he met Mkhwanazi at the University of Zululand where they served together on the Student Representative Council.

“We were sometimes naughty and sometimes good, sometimes tipsy and sometimes sober but that was 45 years ago, our friendship revolved around politics and business over the years.”

Jali said Mkhwanazi and others founded the Black Management Foundation.

“Don managed to distinguish himself as a special person, a hard worker, true entrepreneur and an early starter. He was persistent and he knew how to transfer his academic training into practical training. He was also generous,” said Jali.

More than anything else, said Jali, Mkhwanazi was a patriot.

He said he could not think of something more tragic that losing a loved one.

According to the obituary, which was read by Sbu Kunene, Donald [Don] Bongani Mkhwanazi was born on April 11, 1953 and grew up in Chesterville, Durban.

He attended the University of Zululand from 1971 until 1973 where he obtained a bachelor of Administration. He also did his post-graduate diploma in marketing.

In 2013 the Durban University of Technology conferred an honorary doctorate of technology.

“Fearless, bold, honest, visionary and unapologetic about the truth, he was the bona fide embodiment of Black Economic Empowerment… he loved life, passionately. He was a life of constant and non-stop agitation and collaboration to uplift his people,” said Kunene.

He is survived by his wives Xoliswa Mkhwanazi, Zodwa Msimang and five children.

Mkhwanazi is expected to be buried by close family at the Lala Kahle private cemetery in Botha’s Hill at around 14:00.

Read more on:    don mkhwanazi  |  durban

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