Covid-19: Family remembers pastor who died as a 'soldier of Christ', husband and father

Nthuthuzelo Herald Ponoyi from George, Western Cape, died after being infected with the coronavirus.
Nthuthuzelo Herald Ponoyi from George, Western Cape, died after being infected with the coronavirus.
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  • The family of a beloved minister from George is mourning his death after he succumbed to the coronavirus.
  • Nthuthuzelo Herald Ponoyi died on 4 July after a short illness.
  • His sister described him as the "captain of the Ponoyi ship" and "a born leader”.

Like a thief in the night, Covid-19 continues to hit hundreds of homes and take away loved ones.

Among the thousands of homes hit by a sudden death is that of 46-year-old Ntuthuzelo Herald Ponoyi from George, in the Western Cape.

Ponoyi died on Saturday 4 July following a short illness after contracting the virus. He was born in King William’s Town in the Eastern Cape on 7 March 1974.

READ | Ramaphosa mourns death of Queen Noloyiso: 'An inspiring leader of her people'

A family-orientated man, musician at heart and a faithful servant of God - who preached the gospel at his church, Ibandla LikaKristu Lomnqophiso Omtsha, every sabbath (Saturday) - Ponoyi shone in everything that he was tasked with. His family has been left in shock by his sudden passing.

Describing her elder brother, Weziwe Ponoyi-Dlabane said Ntuthu, as the father of three was affectionately known, had been the "captain of the Ponoyi ship", and was "a born leader", who was influential in his family. 

At home, he was a supportive husband to his beloved wife, Thenjiwe Nozie Ponoyi, and father to his three children - Veliswa, Mncedi and Dwala.

Weziwe said:

He was the captain of the Ponoyi Ship. He led us in everything [and] we salute him for his commitment and for giving his all in everything.

At the time of his untimely passing, Ponoyi worked for the forestry company, Mountain To Ocean (MTO). During a virtual memorial service hosted by MTO on Thursday, he was remembered for his affectionate smile and laughter.

MTO CEO Greg Woodbridge described Ponoyi as a "fearless and forceful" person who had no limits in taking on tremendous responsibilities given to him.

Besides having a leading role at work and at home, Ponoyi also fulfilled another function, which he was passionate about  a minister (uMlungiseleli according to the IsiXhosa Bible) at church.

"He loved God so much [and] was a man of faith. He knew that there's nothing that God cannot do. He experienced God's love while he was on earth.

"We were raised to fear the Lord by our parents [and grew up in that doctrine. You would enter his house with prayer and leave his house with prayer. He was fully dependent on God and whatever he had, he knew that it was coming from God," Weziwe said.

Ponoyi’s love did not only end at home, but also stretched to the broader community and church congregation, especially the youth, whom he encouraged at every opportunity he got to.

"He was blessed to bless others. He did not only have three kids, but had plenty of them. You would always find him helping a person in need, [and] a child in need. He would never have a meal while he [knew] that there is someone without a meal," added Weziwe.

He will be buried at his home in Tolofiyeni, King William’s Town on Sunday 12 July.

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