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Energy, spice & a new level: Jonathan Mokuena remembers his friend Kaunda Ntunja

Beloved and celebrated rugby commentator and former SA Schools captain, Kaunda Ntunja tragically passed away this weekend after a battle with COVID-19.

Kaunda Ntunja tragically passed away this weekend after a battle with Covid-19.

JOHANNESBURG - Beloved and celebrated rugby commentator and former SA Schools captain, Kaunda Ntunja tragically passed away this weekend after a battle with COVID-19.

Fellow broadcaster, and former Lions and Cheetahs flank, Jonathan Mokuena spoke to CapeTalk’s John Maytham on Monday afternoon, celebrating the impact that Ntunja had on rugby commentary:

“Kaunda just took things to a new level by bringing in his own spice to it, his own lingo, his own energy. And also taking it over to Phaka, the only Xhosa-speaking rugby show that SuperSport has got. And also just taking it to the next level.”

Mokuena said that Ntunja brought pride to South Africans.

“After last year’s World Cup, after that try by Mapimpi. And also just doing the opening of Siya Kolisi’s first captaincy. That, for me, was the epitome of what Kaunda was and what he stood for. You know those opportunities. And just bringing the nation together in his unique way.”

Mokuena and Ntunja also met on the playing field.

“I managed to play against him since junior days and I tell you what, he’s always been that guy who wanted to be the best in whatever he does. And fortunately, I had the privilege of becoming his friend and he will sadly be missed.

“He called himself the black Bob Skinstad – because those days Bob Skinstad was hot on everyone’s tongue. And he (Kaunda) believed he could be either the next Bob or even be better than Bob Skinstad. Yeah, Kaunda was a really special person,” Mokuena said.

He added that Ntunja had many special moments, but commentating on Siya Kolisi's first game as Bok captain, was certainly memorable. “Definitely when Siya Kolisi was announced as captain. And he had to run out… where Kaunda actually did the opening. And I tell you what, for him, the fact that he didn’t play for the Springboks, for him that was like close to becoming or being a part of the captain – as a captain for the Springboks.”

Ntunja was the first black captain of SA Schools in 2000 and went on to win the Currie Cup with the Cheetahs in 2005. His revered commentary of Makazolo Mapimpi’s try in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final went viral when he exclaimed, “Liqashu, YiBubbly, Shampompo, Shampizi,” emulating the popping of champagne bottles as the Springboks lifted their third Webb Ellis Cup.

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