St Charles honours ex-pupil

2019-01-25 15:29
Nompumelelo Mtshali holds a photo of her son, Samukele Khumalo, who is being honoured by St Charles College by having a basketball arena named after him.

Nompumelelo Mtshali holds a photo of her son, Samukele Khumalo, who is being honoured by St Charles College by having a basketball arena named after him. (Kerushun Pillay)

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A former St Charles College head boy who died in a car accident a decade ago is being honoured by the school by having a basketball arena named after him.

The school will on Friday unveil the Samukele Khumalo Arena to commemorate the life of the former first-team basketball captain who was one of four people who died in an accident on the N3 northbound near Market Road in 2008.

Khumalo was one of 12 passengers who were flung out of a Ford Bantam bakkie with no canopy after it lost control, hit a ditch and overturned, The Witness reported at the time.

The group were travelling back home in the early hours of the morning after watching the Sharks rugby team beat the Blue Bulls in the Currie Cup in Durban. Khumalo died later at Northdale Hospital.

It was not long before he was due to begin writing his matric exams.

Khumalo’s mother, Nompumelelo Mtshali, said she was honoured that St Charles had remembered her son, but said it has also brought back memories of that traumatic time.

“The school called me in November to ask for my permission,” she told The Witness. “The lead-up to it has had an effect on me. I couldn’t go to work because I’ve been in tears.”

Mtshali said the past decade has been tough for her and her family, as she has suffered deaths of both her parents, other relatives and went through a retrenchment, all while grieving over her son.

“I used to tell my parents it was as if they aged within a week after his [Khumalo’s] passing. That’s how tough it was for our family. Samke lived his life very well, and I always ask myself what I can do to honour his memory.”

She described Khumalo as a born leader who loved playing soccer. He had been accepted to study aeronautical engineering at the University of Cape Town.

“He was very mature and even when he would visit his grandparents in Dambuza and other children would call him to play soccer, he would tell them to wait because he was cleaning the kitchen. The other children would laugh but he wouldn’t be bothered.

“Even as young as eight years old he would take the Bible and choose a verse and pray. From a young age he was able to separate good from bad and say, ‘This is how I will live my life’.”

Mtshali said she plans to open a foundation for gifted children who cannot afford to enrol in top schools to honour Khumalo.

She also plans on writing a book about his life.

Khumalo is survived by Mtshali and his 13-year-old sister, Sandi.

St Charles principal Allen van Blerk told The Witness: “The 10th anniversary of his tragic death drew us to remember the significant leadership qualities of Samukele and to recognise the role he played in unifying our diverse college.”

Survivors of the accident, Siphelele Khumalo and Sphamandla Bhengu, are expected to be at today’s event, Van Blerk said. “Samukele is remembered as an enthusiastic and composed leader whose exceptional sportsmanship inspired a generation of leaders and boys to turn the potential of this College into reality.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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