Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide - Bon­gani Ndlovu

IT was a som­bre at­mos­phere yes­ter­day as hun­dreds of peo­ple gath­ered to pay their last re­spects to for­mer Kukhulwa Kokuphela ac­tor, busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist Nh­lanhla Lucky “Gearbox” Sibanda at the United Con­gre­ga­tional Church of South­ern Africa (UCCSA) church in Mzi­likazi sub­urb, Bu­l­awayo.

Sibanda played Gearbox, a witty mem­ber of a three-man gang of con­men that had the likes of Khraiseki (Ed­win Nh­liziyo), and Md­lam­bulo (Won­der Siz­iba) in the pop­u­lar drama.

Sibanda died on Tues­day night at Mater Dei hos­pi­tal after los­ing his three-year bat­tle with can­cer. His death came ex­actly a month after he cel­e­brated his 57th birth­day.

Lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple, foot­ball greats and fel­low ac­tors joined the Sibanda fam­ily in com­fort­ing his wife Au­drey and the cou­ple’s six chil­dren as they buried their fa­ther.

Speaker after speaker had words of praise for Sibanda de­scrib­ing him as a man with a big heart and a love­able char­ac­ter.

Among those in at­ten­dance were High­landers FC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Ndu­miso Gumede, Zifa vice pres­i­dent Omega Sibanda, Chicken Inn FC coach Rah­man Gumbo and fel­low ac­tor Felix Moyo.

“A larger than life char­ac­ter, Sibanda was lov­able and it was easy for one to click with him. When it came to act­ing, he was a man who ex­e­cuted his role per­fectly. His char­ac­ter was of a town­ship fraud­ster, but in real life he was a man of the high­est in­tegrity and a re­spectable busi­ness­man,” said Moyo.

Fam­ily mem­bers said they had lost a pil­lar of strength who was a uni­fier and would be greatly missed.

From the church ser­vice, a long funeral pro­ces­sion headed to Lady Stan­ley Ceme­tery, Sibanda’s fi­nal rest­ing place.

Born on Au­gust 13, 1959 in Nkayi, Sibanda grew up in Sivomo area and learnt at Sivomo Pri­mary School be­fore mov­ing to Makhu­lam­bila Pri­mary School in Lower Gweru then Ih­lathi Sec­ondary School in Tsha­bal­ala, Bu­l­awayo.

He worked for the Na­tional Rail­ways of Zim­babwe from 1980 to 1984 as a com­mer­cial clerk and later as an ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer.

There­after he worked for Old Mu­tual Zim­babwe where he was a sales rep­re­sen­ta­tive and fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor un­til 2003.

Dur­ing his years at Old Mu­tual, Sibanda joined Felix Moyo, the writer and pro­ducer of Kukhulwa Kokuphela and was given the role of Gearbox.

The char­ac­ter was part of a three-man gang of con­men.

This is where he carved his ca­reer as an ac­tor with his char­ac­ter of a quick wit­ted per­son who kept the crew in check be­ing a dar­ling of many who watched the drama.

Apart from work and act­ing, Sibanda was a busi­ness­man of re­pute after set­ting up Yonah Group of com­pa­nies in 1995. Sibanda owned Yonah Com­plex in En­tum­bane, Yonah Trans­port in Kelvin North in­dus­trial area and a fill­ing sta­tion in Nkayi.

So­cially he was in­volved heav­ily in play­ing foot­ball for his then com­pany’s team Old Mu­tual, and now with Izin­sizwa FC play­ing in the Golden Oldies so­cial league.

Sibanda was also a life-time mem­ber of the gi­ants of Zim­babwe foot­ball High­landers FC and their bene­fac­tor. — @bon­ganinkunzi

Pall­bear­ers carry the body of the late Nh­lanhla Lucky ‘Gearbox’ Sibanda after a church ser­vice to its fi­nal rest­ing place at Lady Stan­ley Ceme­tery in Bu­l­awayo yes­ter­day. Inset the late Nh­lanhla Lucky ‘Gearbox’ Sibanda

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