A Vantyi family affair for funeral parlour

Luyolo Mkentane

THE Vantyi family is one of the well-known families in Port Elizabeth’s townships.

Vantyi & Vantyi Funeral Parlour owner Richmond “Uncle Rich” Vantyi has been running his Zwide-based business for 31 years.

The youngest of 13 children, Vantyi and his family lived near King William’s Town.


Vantyi, 76, who currently lives in Summerstrand, said it was love at first sight when he met his late wife Thembisa in 1966. They were married in 1967.

“Thembisa was a bread-winner at home (in King William’s Town). She had to abandon her studies and look after her family. She came to Port Elizabeth and joined Livingstone Hospital as a nursing sister.”

Vantyi started his business, which employs about 40 people and 25 drivers, with only R300 and the experience as a salesman, municipal inspector and an administrator at the British consulate office. He now owns 25 limousines which were converted into hearses.

 Due to “Section 10” – which stated that if you were not born in Port Elizabeth you had to leave the city – Thembisa was subsequently fired from her work, and was asked to leave the city.

Vantyi was, however, not forced to leave as his “dompas” stated that he was born in Port Elizabeth.

Vantyi has three daughters and a son: Sisanda Ndungane, 44, a nursing graduate; Mhlangovuyo Vantyi, 41, a industrial psychology graduate; Khanyisa Sineke, 33, a cost accounting graduate and Siwaphiwe Vantyi, a information technology graduate.

“They all work in the (funeral parlour) business,” Vantyi chuckled.

“ I sent them to school to do these degrees.

“I wanted them to start a professional business,” he jokes.

On a more serious note, Vantyi attributes the success of the business to the children.

“I would not have managed without their presence”.

His daughter, Khanyisa said: “My father said the business belongs to us and that it’s up to us to take it forward.”

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