| Former ambassador and SABC board chair Sonwabo Eddie Funde dies

Former South African ambassador to Germany and SABC board chairperson, Sonwabo Eddie Funde, has died.

The SABC reported that Funde went into cardiac arrest on Tuesday morning.

The public broadcaster said in a statement that he served on its board between 2004 and 2008.

“The success and growth of the SABC under his leadership bares testimony to his wealth of knowledge and great expertise. He will be remembered for his humble yet assertive nature,” said spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago.

After the SABC, Funde took on the role of ambassador.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said he contributed immensely to diplomatic relations.

“During his stint in Berlin, Ambassador Funde laid the foundation for what is now a solid political, economic, trade and people-to-people relationship between South Africa and Germany.”

Sisulu said he belonged to a generation of exiled activists who fought for freedom and returned home to contribute to the country‘s growth.

Before his stint at the SABC, Funde served in various roles at public and private companies.

These included president and board chairman of the South African Communications Forum, executive director of the South African Research and Development Trust, and a non-executive member of the board of directors of Eskom Holdings Limited.

Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Dr Siyabonga Cwele said Funde was one of the pioneers of the post-apartheid information and communications technology policy and regulatory environment.

Funde worked with the government to develop the 1996 White Paper on Telecommunications Policy, which resulted in the formation of the SA Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

He later became deputy chairperson of the authority.

“We give our collective thank you to the Funde family for allowing the nation to share in the life of this visionary for the sector. His life-long activism for the upliftment of black people influenced the trajectory of the telecommunications sector in South Africa and the region,” said Cwele.

Sisulu and the SABC board, management and staff extended condolences to his loved ones.

“May they find solace in knowing that Mr Funde‘s achievements and actions inspired others to dream, learn, do and become more. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Kganyago.

Sisulu said details of the memorial service and funeral would be communicated in consultation with his family.

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