Royal AM AM midfielder Jabulani Ncobeni has revealed the ordeal of the sad passing of his close friend Bongi Ntuli, saying the suits he bought to wear on his wedding day he will now wear on his funeral.
Ntuli passed away on Sunday, with the club stated he was “diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, which metastasized and ultimately led to his death at the Midlands Medical Centre Private Hospital, in Pietermaritzburg”.
Ncobeni joined AmaZulu at the same time with Ntuli at the beginning of the 2017/18 season after Usuthu bought the status of Thanda Royal Zulu to play in the PSL top flight.
Ntuli was joining from Mamelodi Sundowns on loan before his move was made permanently by the club in the following season.
“Since then I have had the brotherhood, we would chill every time and after the training we would stay together and he would leave me at my place because at that time I didn’t have a car,” Ncobeni told iDiski Times.
“Sometimes when we have days off, we would chill because Mkhambathini and Maritzburg are essentially close to each other so that is how we knew each other.
“Even when I lost my father, he told me to stay strong and it will pass, these are parts of my life. So I was terrified when on Sunday I heard that he is no more.
“I was shocked that he passed away on the day he was getting married [traditionally]. I went to his home on Tuesday and it was never nice. His father saw footballers and obviously it clicks that these are his friends and he would have been here.”
Ncobeni attended Ntuli’s white wedding in September, which was held at Zunguness in the Midlands where close friends and family were in attendance.
“On the 9 November, it was going to be his second month anniversary in his marriage,” added Ncobeni, who spoke to Ntuli last week, saying they were no signs that he was sick.
“Amongst his friends, he was the first to get married and what is painful is the suits that we wore on that day of his wedding, now we have to wear in his funeral. Can you imagine?”
More tributes pour in for Ntuli and AmaZulu defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele was left in tears as the entire team visited his family on Tuesday.
“It’s tough, man, for the family and us as his teammates because this is the guy who showed up every day with the same smile, same energy,” said Mphahlele.
“So we have lost a friend, the family has lost a son and a newly wed. I think I can vividly remember when we went to his wedding in the Midlands and then on Sunday it was supposed to be his Zulu traditional wedding, he couldn’t make it, so it’s just sad in any way you look at it.
“It’s just sad for the family, for Sne (Ntuli’s wife), for the kids and his dad but yeah it’s devastating. We will try to draw strength from God and just keep on going.”
Mbongeni Gumede, who is the longest-serving member of Usuthu, joined Mphahlele to pay respect to his former teammates.
“Mdeva, that’s how we call him, so I think on and off the field he was a bubbly guy, always smiling,” said Gumede.
“He was always happy. He didn’t have any problems with anyone so I think he was just a kind person and I think it’s very difficult for us as a team and as players. For me it’s a loss because he wasn’t just a friend, I have lost a brother.”