The Sisulu family announces with great sadness the death of Mlungisi Sisulu, the second son of Walter and Albertina Sisulu. He passed away yesterday at 20h00 at the Donald Gordon Hospital in Johannesburg, where he was under treatment for pancreatic cancer.
Mlungisi (Lungi) is survived by his wife Sheila, son Linda, daughters Nontsikelelo and Boitumelo, daughter-in-law Maseeiso, sons-in-law Mlulami Singapi and Peter Shivute and grandchildren Soyisile, Siviwe, Nomayira, Xhamela, Nokwindla and Namene.
Lungi was best known as a businessman who over the years was involved in a number of business ventures. He spent a number of years as a director of ARUP. During the 1980s he ran a small shop in Soweto, affectionately known as Shop 7 and later a poultry wholesale business, Fine Foods.
His affable and friendly demeanour belied his courage and tenacity in the struggle against apartheid. Like his brothers Max and Zwelakhe and sister Lindiwe, Lungi suffered his share of arrests, the first with his sister Beryl when he was only 12 years old. He was also arrested a few more times including as a teenager while attending the Rivonia Trial that ended in his father Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and others receiving a life sentence on Robben Island.
While his brother Max and sister Lindiwe were in exile and his brother Zwelakhe was in and out of detention, it was Lungi who their mother Albertina relied on most for support to amongst others raise his younger sister Nkuli, especially during the eighteen years that she was restricted by banning orders.
In addition to keeping the Sisulu home fires burning, Lungi played an active role in ANC underground structures in the 1980s, harbouring Umkhonto weSizwe units in Shop 7, at great risk to himself. Lungi provided unstinting support to his brother Jongi Sisulu and other MK cadres during the terrorism trials of the 1980s.
After the ANC was unbanned, Lungi was elected chairperson of the Orlando West branch. Although his political activities were not as well documented as other members of his family, his contribution was significant. He is one of the unsung heroes of the struggle.
He was always supportive of his wife Sheila’s work in education and later when she became South Africa’s ambassador in Washington and finally World Food Programme’s Deputy Executive Director in Rome.
Lungi’s death is a great blow to the Sisulu family, coming as it does just three years after that of his brother Zwelakhe. He will be deeply missed for his keen sense of humour, his kindness and his friendly and engaging nature that enabled him to interact with people from all walks of life.
Funeral arrangements will be announced in due course.