KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Bhekuyise Ntuli, has died following a short illness, the ANC in the province confirmed in a statement on Saturday.
The party said it would release an official statement once the Office of the Premier had made an official announcement.
“The ANC calls on everybody to give the family space to mourn their untimely loss peacefully until further details are announced,” the brief statement concluded.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed on Sunday that Ntuli died of Covid-19-related complications.
Ntuli passed away on Saturday afternoon at a Durban hospital.
“Affectionately known by his clan name ‘Mphemba’, he was appointed to the position of MEC in September 2019. Throughout his life in politics, he has been a humble, loyal, dedicated, hard-working and exemplary servant of the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Zikalala.
Ntuli was described as “a team player, who always led from the front”.
“He was often at the coalface of this epic battle from the time the first case was confirmed in March 2020. He led many campaigns against the virus as chair of the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster with the Provincial Command Council,” said Zikalala.
Ntuli cut his political teeth working in the ANC underground structures and was a liberation fighter. He served as a National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) shop steward, and for more than 15 years as the chairperson of the ANC in the Musa Dladla Region.
“He has consistently displayed exceptional leadership and wisdom. His charm and charisma enabled him to tackle the most challenging aspect of his portfolio. He criss-crossed the province, ensuring that people adhere to the Covid-19 protocols,” the premier said.
“We are very saddened by his demise and wish to convey our sincerest condolences to his family, and to the rest of the provincial executive.”