Condolences pour in as KZN MEC Bheki Ntuli succumbs to Covid-19
Durban - Condolences are pouring in following the death of KZN MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli.
Ntuli (63) who was also the ruling party’s stalwart in the province and served as a member of the ANC KZN provincial executive committee, died on Saturday evening at a Durban hospital.
This was days after he tested positive for Covid-19 and had to be hospitalised in order to get better care due to his advance age.
In a statement confirming the passing of the stalwart who is credited for standing his ground and established ANC branches in northern KZN where the IFP once ruled the roost, the ruling party in the province asked that his family be given space to mourn.
KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala, who also doubles as the chairperson of the ANC in the province, called a late-night press to announce the checking bereavement.
He said Ntuli’s passing is a major blow to the whole province and its attempt to improve its economic standing.
“His loss is therefore a major blow to the province’s efforts to improve and harmonise the lived experience of the people of KwaZulu-Natal in various spheres of life, not least in the gallant fight that we are waging against this deadly virus,” Zikalala.
Outlining Ntuli’s political background, he told the mourning province that, from the very beginning as a young man from Mtubatuba, he was a determined citizen.
“He cut his political teeth working in the ANC underground structures and was a liberation fighter, who was involved in uMkhonto WeSizwe underground operations. He has previously served as a shop steward of the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa, and was involved in the formation of ANC structures in the then northern Natal region. Mphemba (Ntuli) garnered a lot of respect as a peacemaker at the height of internecine political violence between ANC and IFP in Northern Natal, mainly in what is now known as the Musa Dladla Region (King Cetshwayo district),” Zikalala added.
The official provincial opposition, the IFP which once saw Ntuli as a foe who was determined to break its hegemony in northern KZN, also mourned his passing.
In a statement, the party said Ntuli will be remembered for his humility, friendly personality and his accessibility to all his peers in the provincial legislature.
“As a result, in a short space of time since his appointment as the MEC, he proved to be equal to the task. He ensured that his Department improved the provincial road infrastructure, and brought stability and effective solutions to the troubled KZN taxi industry, which has for years been plagued by bloodshed,,” the IFP said.
The leader of the DA in the province, Zwakele Mncwango, said Ntuli was one MEC who was always available to work for the community, and whatever task he was given, he excelled.
“We view this as a big loss to the province of KwaZulu-Natal. His family can find comfort in the knowledge that we will remember Ntuli as a selfless, kind and a hardworking man,” Mncwango said.
Memorial service and funeral details are yet to be announced. It is expected that Ntuli will get a state funeral.