Johannesburg - Tributes have been pouring in for one of South African football’s most adored sons, former Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Isaac “Shakes” Kungwane, who died on Wednesday after spending two days in an intensive care unit.
Those who didn’t know him could have confused Kungwane for a comedian and not a footballer. A joke or quip was never far off.
Kungwane had been in hospital since Sunday after falling sick with an undisclosed illness.
His younger brother Aaron, who has been speaking on behalf of the family, said: “It’s a tough loss for us as a family. Just last year we buried our sister and now it’s Shakes.
“He was not well for some time. Yesterday, the doctor told us that he had little chance of surviving. Before he died it was a difficult time, because he couldn’t even talk.”
The 43-year-old Kungwane, who played at Chiefs for 10 years, is survived by his wife, Precious, and their three children – Kabelo, 24, Neo 14, and Thato, 8.
“Shakes” rose to prominence as a schoolboy wonder and later as a midfield wizard for Chiefs.
Born and bred in Alexandra, north of Joburg, Kungwane was a favourite among the fans and those in the football fraternity.
“Shakes not only played for the sake of playing. He played to entertain the fans,” said former Chiefs teammate Thabo Mooki.
Chiefs manager Bobby Motaung said laughter followed Shakes everywhere he went. He would at times ignore the match-day instructions, to the dismay of the coach.
“He had a sense of humour and could light up any room he walked into. He also sometimes played his own game, regardless of the instructions of the coach,” a chuckling Motaung reminisced.
“We will remember (him) as having one of the biggest characters in the team.”
After hanging up his boots, Kungwane became an equally adored television football analyst on SABC and later at SuperSport.
“We are all stunned and saddened by this awful news,” SuperSport's head of production Alvin Naicker said in a statement.
“Shakes brought vitality, knowledge and understanding to his role at SuperSport.
“He was adored by everyone. This is a sad day for football lovers who will recall Shakes for his wizardry on the ball.”
Pretoria News and Sapa