Tributes pour in for chief Gumede

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The IFP says it has been dealt a major blow after the death of the party's longest serving member, chief Hulumeni Simon Gumede.

Gumede, pictured, died yesterday in a car accident after his vehicle collided with a truck in Hluhluwe in northern Zululand.

Gumede, 58, had been an inkosi for 36 years.

He was also the chairman of the Umkhanyakude traditional council and a senior member of the IFP.

Police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said Gumede was on his way home after dropping off his children at school when the accident happened.

"He was at an intersection when he collided with a truck and his car overturned.

"He died instantly.

"Police are investigating a case of culpable homicide.

"The truck driver was slightly injured," said Mdunge.

Senior IFP leaders described Gumede as "an independent thinker who was not a yes-man".

Mpiyezintombi Mzimela, deputy chairman of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial house of traditional leaders, of which Gumede was an executive member, said they were shocked by his death.

He described him as a capable leader who united traditional leaders.

"The traditional leaders every where and the people of this province are shaken by his death.

"We have lost a great leader, a father figure and a loyal member of the IFP," said Mzimela.

IFP general secretary Musa Zondi described Gumede's death as a tragedy.

"Not only is it a tragedy to the Gumede family, but to the whole Makhasa traditional community of which he was an inkosi.

"It's also a big loss to the entire Zulu nation because he was a gifted leader who never hesitated to speak his mind on any issue," said Zondi.

ANC's Willies Mchunu and provincial legislature speaker said Gumede's death was a great shock "as he was so close to many of us, as the IFP's chief whip and as the longest-serving member of the legislature.

"Not only have the IFP and traditional leaders suffered a loss, but all of us have lost a colleague."

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi and other traditional leaders are expected to visit the family today.