Beloved Wynberg author dies

BENNIE BUNSEE, political commentator, journalist and former WRRA exco member, passed away on Saturday, 10 October 2015. Bennie would have celebrated his 80th birthday on 22 October this year. He made Wynberg his home when he returned from exile under apartheid, and lived in Prospect Hill Road.

Bennie had undergone open heart surgery only a short while ago, but was readmitted to hospital with post-surgery complications.

Bennie Bunsee, clockwise from top: An article in The Cape Times; Bennie at the South Raod Vigil (pics: Graham Weir); an article in the Mail & Guardian; Bennie as a younger man (pic: IOL); Bennie, born Durbanite but Capetonian in heart and soul (pic: IOL)

ABOVE – Bennie Bunsee, clockwise from top left: A Bunsee column in The Cape Times; Bennie at the South Road Vigil earlier this year (pics: Graham Weir); an article by him in the Mail & Guardian; the ikwezi masthead; Bennie as a younger man (pic: IOL); Bennie, born Durbanite but Capetonian in heart and soul (pic: IOL)

Raised in Chesterville, Durban, Bennie was a Struggle veteran. As a teenager he taught himself to type so as to follow his dream of a career in journalism, focusing especially on politics.

Exile

He spent many years in exile from South Africa as a vociferous opponent of apartheid. Bennie was chiefly based in Hull, England, as a member of the Anti-Apartheid movement, and studied economics at various British universities. He produced the Pan-Africanist publication ikwezi and regularly published articles in South African journals and newspapers, including the Mail & Guardian.

Return to South Africa

Bennie returned to South Africa at the time of the first democratic elections, and served in government directly under former Minister Dullah Omar. Despite having been held in detention as a young man in the then Cape Province, and having even been deported from the Cape under apartheid laws that specifically targeted people of Indian heritage in restricting their movements between the former provinces, Bennie decided to live in Cape Town upon his return to South Africa – and specifically chose to live in Wynberg.

Life in Wynberg

Despite his advanced age, Bennie lived alone in his home in Prospect Hill Road. Extremely well-read, his home was a vast library that housed his extraordinary collection of diverse books.

Bennie was an active member of the Wynberg community: he spoke out against the inappropriate development at 27 Orient Road and served on the very first WRRA Executive Committee, having regularly attended public meetings to assist with the formation of the association. Bennie was particularly outspoken against crime in Wynberg and was a member of the WRRA’s first Community Safety Subcommittee.

Bennie became increasingly disillusioned with the political landscape in South Africa and was appalled by corruption, which he saw as an outright betrayal of the Struggle. A former PAC stalwart, not a single political party was spared his incisive, forthright criticism. He publicly noted, “The DA is as corrupt as the ANC – only more sophisticated.”

He regularly attended public meetings convened by the WRRA, and openly voiced his support for the association against the controversial BRT MyCiTi bus route. Bennie attended the very first candlelit vigil held by the South Road Families Association against the BRT route in February 2015, and walked the route of the evictions, before he and others addressed the gathering.

Bennie is survived by his nephew Michael, who specially moved to Cape Town to assist Bennie over the period of his illness, and is further survived by family in Durban, as well as in Manchester, England. A thorough, dignified gentleman, he was a special friend to his neighbours in Prospect Hill and Mountain View Roads and we will miss him very much

– By Darron Araujo

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