EASTERN Province Cricket Development coach Zimisele Njokweni has died after a long battle with tuberculosis.
Njokweni, 38, affectionately known as Sir Njoks or Zimayi, died at Dora Nginza Hospital in Zwide on Tuesday night.
His parents were the late Professor Hector Maphelo and Xoliswa Njokweni and Zimayi was born in England in 1975.
After his father completed his studies in the UK, the family came back to Port Elizabeth.
Zimayi was enrolled at Ford Lower Primary School and later moved to Esivuyiseni Comprehensive, where he excelled in cricket during the Bakers Biscuit Mini-Cricket tournaments.
He continued to play cricket at Lungisa High School as a left-arm fast bowler until he joined the Cazalliers which was a township combined team in the late ’80s. He later became a spinner.
Between 1993 and ’96, Zimayi played for the EP Cricket Development side and United Brothers in Zwide.
Family spokesman Nkqubela Njokweni said the family were devastated by the passing away of their younger brother.
“We still can’t believe that he’s gone but he had battled with TB since 2002.
“He was a great but humble sportsman who was an example to the younger generation and he had a very powerful influence in cricket circles.”
Njokweni said his brother had discovered a lot of talented township cricketers, including Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Bobo Homani, and the Diphe brothers, Mandilakhe and Lazola.
National cricket team coach Russell Domingo said all cricket lovers would be saddened by Zimayi’s death.
“I knew him through coaching in the EP Cricket ranks and he played a big part in developing young cricketers, especially in the townships.”
EP Cricket Board chief executive Tono Mle described Zimayi as “Mr Cricket of the township”.
Zimayi’s health deteriorated while he was coaching cricket in KwaDwesi and KwaMagxaki.
He was writing a book titled EP Black African Cricketers.
Former teammate Neville Botha said he played with Zimayi for the EP Cricket development side and the United Brothers.
“I was an opening batsman and Zimayi was in the mid-batting order. We used to travel with the same team and beat all the development sides in Cradock, Grahamstown and the Midlands areas.
“Zimayi is well known all over the world, especially in the West Indies, and my condolences go out to his family.”
Zimayi is survived by his two brothers, three sisters, nephews and nieces.
The funeral arrangements have yet to be finalised, but he will be laid to rest next week at the Forest Hill cemetery.