ANC KZN remembers late ex-ambassador Themba Kubheka as ‘rare breed’

Themba Muziwakhe Kubheka has died after losing his battle to a brief illness. Picture: ANC KZN/Facebook

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said Kubheka was ‘one of the few people in positions of power who identified with everyone, regardless of status’.

South Africa’s former ambassador to Denmark, China and Angola, and ANC struggle activist, Themba Muziwakhe Kubheka, has died, after losing his battle to a brief illness. 

Parliament confirmed Kubheka’s passing last Wednesday in Pietermaritzburg. He was 72. 

At the time of his passing, he was working as an intergovernmental relations specialist in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) chairperson’s office. 

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Before this, he was former National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete’s advisor.

From 1997, Kubheka was the country’s ambassador to Denmark, China and Angola. Before this, he worked in the foreign service.

He was also a founding member of the National Youth Organisation. 

But well before his governmental work, Kubheka was a member of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto weSizwe, and went into exile in the 1970s. In 1977, he trained in Angola, under his nom de guerre, Aaron Mnisi. 

Kubheka was no stranger to loss himself. 

In 2003, he lost his wife Lindiwe and 18-month-old son, Lindithemba, in a car accident in KwaZulu-Natal. 

And during his struggle days, his sister Ntombi lost her life at the hands of police in 1987. Ntombi’s remains were only discovered in 1997.  His mother died in 1996 without knowing the fate of her daughter. 

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said Kubheka was “a rare breed, one of the few people in positions of power who identified with everyone, regardless of status”.

Affectionately known as “Themba”, the provincial body said he “never forgot his roots in KwaMashu”.

“A keen archivist, Themba will be missed as one of the proponents for the development of the township, which is headed for its 60-year anniversary soon.”

They said that Kubheka’s passing would “leave a gap that will be hard to fill.” 

“He was a warm, empathetic and humble man, whose magnetic personality drew the whole cross-section of South African society into his engaging orbit.”

Kubheka is survived by his wife Bongakonke, and his children, Ntsiki, Simo, Vusi, Thabo, Banathi and Akhona, and his sisters, Sibongile and Mthoko. 

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor also her conveyed her condolences.

“Our thoughts are with that Kubheka family as they mourn the loss of a patriot, flag-bearer and servant of the people.”

Compiled by Nica Richards

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