The UNISA building in Durban. Picture IOL

Durban - The University of South Africa (Unisa) will honour the late Simiso Nkwanyana by naming the building housing its Durban Regional Hub after him.

Siyabonga Seme,Unisa KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson, explained that Nkwanyana was one of the founding members of the first Unisa Students Representative Council which was established in 1996. 

Seme said Nkwanyana was a popular student leader with a strong and loyal following. 

"Nkwanyana was, moreover, a driving force in the South African Communist Party. He was tipped for a bright future on the national stage when he died far too soon, aged 31,"he said.

As a national and African treasure, Unisa takes very seriously its duty to be representative of the diverse communities that it serves. 

With this in mind,Seme said, Unisa has embarked on an exciting initiative of naming and renaming new and existing facilities in keeping with the spirit of renewal and transformation. 

The naming ceremony at the Durban Regional Hub will be the first of a series taking place at Unisa’s campuses nationwide.

During the street re-naming process in the eThekwini Municipality Goble Road in Morningside was renamed to Smiso Nkwanyana Road. 

Simiso Nkwanyana. Picture source: eThekwini Municipality


Nkwanyana was born in rural Melmoth in Northern KwaZulu-Natal in 1972. 

According to the eThekwini Municipality website, Nkwanyana grew up at a time when resistance to apartheid was intensifying and he later said that this left him with no choice but to join the struggle for freedom. 

The website stated that after completing his education, Nkwanyana was elected provincial secretary of the South African Communist Party in KwaZulu-Natal in 1999 at a time when the party was in decline. He was just 27 and many within the party questioned whether he would be up to the task of rebuilding its fortunes.

The website stated that Nkwanyana was so successful that the KZN branch was soon one of the party’s strongest. His peers described him as a dedicated cadre who followed in the footsteps of and built on the achievements of KZN communists such as Johannes Nkosi, Moses Mabhida, Stephen Dlamini, Harry Gwala and Mzala Nxumalo. 

Nkwanyana, they said, understood that to be a true communist meant placing the interests of the people above personal interests and he had a reputation as a people’s person who was dedicated to his work.

Nkwanyana was also known for his remarkable commitment to gender equality in both his political and personal lives. 

He was also devoted to his family and was known never to start any long meeting without having called his wife, Gcina, to find out how she and their two children were. She described him as a family man whose best playmate was their daughter Olwethu.

He died in an early morning car crash in August 2003. According to a news report, Nkwanyana had left an all-night meeting to prepare for the South African Municipal Workers’ Union provincial congress, shortly before the accident.

Daily News