a family tragedy

Eric Naki

Eric Naki

Tragedy has struck the Gwentshe family twice in the space of a week.

One of East London's political activists and jazz enthusiasts, Zweliyazuza "Duke" Gwentshe, and his elder brother Zwelibanzi Boyce Gwentshe died within a week of each other.

Zweliyazuza died two weeks ago and Zwelibanzi a week later after a long illness. He had suffered a stroke.

Duke and Boyce were the sons of the late and foremost ANC Eastern Cape leader and youth league pioneer, Skwenene Alcott Gwentshe, who was banned and banished to Bushbuckridge in the then Eastern Transvaal by the apartheid government.

The entire family was involved in the liberation struggle, including their mother, Irene Ngcebesha-Gwentshe.

Duke was born on May 5 1955 in Duncan Village, East London, where he did his primary education and proceeded to finish matric at Mzomhle High School in Mdantsane. After passing his matric he went to Fort Hare University to pursue law studies.

Duke Gwentshe later worked at Magqabi law firm in Mdantsane and assisted at his late eldest brother Mzimkhulu Gwentshe's law practice in East London. He frequented the East London magistrate's court where he was employed at the local Legal Aid Board offices.

He worked for the Department of Home Affairs for some time and at the time of his death, was an employee at the Social Development Department in East London.

His late father, a keen jazzman, taught him how to play the saxophone at which he excelled and became a member of various jazz groups in East London. He is survived by his only daughter Asanda and two sisters.

Boyce was born in 1950, also in Duncan Village. He did primary schooling at Rubusana primary and high schooling at Forbes Grant in King William's Town. He worked at Wilson Rowntree firm and at Chloride factory in East London for several years.

He was an executive committee member of the Mdantsane Residents Association. Boyce had been sick since suffering a stroke in 1998 and died on February 5 this year. He is survived by two sisters.

A joint funeral service will be held at the NU 1 Community Hall in Mdantsane tomorrow.

They will be buried at the local cemetery.