Tourism industry mourns Ntintili
SOWETO pioneer tour operator Jimmy Ntsikelelo Ntintili died at Leratong Hospital on Sunday aged 67.
He suffered a stroke in October last year from which he never recovered.
Ntintili will be buried today at West Park Cemetery in Johannesburg after a service at his home at 210 Arkansas Avenue, Berario, Northcliff.
Ntintili was the owner of Jimmy's Face to Face Tours, which he founded in 1989 to show "anyone who cared to make the trip to see what Soweto life is really all about: the good, bad, bold, beautiful and ugly".
Born in Orlando East Ntintili's was passionate about Soweto and loved to share this love with his many friends and acquaintances across the colour line.
He would take them to soccer matches and socialise in the township, showing them that Sowetans were not violent people. And so the seeds of a vibrant business were sown.
He matriculated at Inkamana Senior Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal and enrolled at the Hammanskraal Hotel and Catering School. After graduating as a chef and hotel catering executive he joined the Diepkloof Hotel in Soweto as senior chef. Then the opportunity to start a tour business was born.
His brother, Price Molahloe, said Diepkloof Hotel became a regular final refreshment stop for the Johannesburg City Council tourist bus and Ntintili came "face to face" with tourists. Being a linguist, fluent in French, German and Spanish, he made many friends from abroad, leading to many visits to practically all corners of the globe to promoting his Face to Face Tours.
It all started when the council bus could not take all the tourists and Ntintili hired a minibus taxis and took the surplus tourists on guided tours of Soweto. And, as they say, the rest is history. From picking up tourists at the five-star Carlton Hotel he opened an office opposite the hotel and business boomed.
Jimmy's Face to Face flourished and his company ended up running a fleet of luxury busses for an unforgettable experience to the townships for locals and visitors from abroad, in the process also giving Soweto entrepreneurs an opportunity to diversify into a new market.
He later introduced a new concept into the business: arranging overnight stays for tourists with families in the townships.
Ntintili won many awards for his entrepreneurial spirit and contribution to the economy of the township. He was also a member of the Gauteng Tourism Board and a regular exhibitor at the Indaba touorism exhibition in KZN
Wandie Ndala, owner of the popular Wandie's Place, said in tribute that the death of Ntintili was a great loss to the Soweto business community.
"Jimmy was the first person to bring tourists and white people on guided tours to Soweto," he said.
"He spoke fluent German and brought many Germans to my restaurant and motivated me a lot. His death is a great loss indeed."
Ntintili is survived by two sons, a daughter and two granddaughters.