Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
16 Jul 2014
6:00 pm

Horizon Deep’s mixed reaction to Sibeko’s death

Kulani Nkuna

Jefferson Sibeko has passed on ... long live Sibeko Gold.

Jefferson Sibeko's death has been met with mixed reactions on Horizon Deep. Pictures: Nigel Sibanda

They say one should never speak badly of the dead, but Jefferson’s flinty eyes portrayed nothing but ill intent the second the Sibeko family came riding into Horizon Deep.

Sure he had struggle credentials, but he was essentially a self-made powerful black man who backed down to no one, especially Horizon Deep’s perpetual white devil, Barker Haines. He was an innovative man and brought along with him grand mining ideas like the Ultra Deep project, which was the first of its kind.

Vusi Kunene as Jefferson Sibeko on SABC soapie Isidingo. Pictures: Supplied. Picture supplied.

Vusi Kunene as Jefferson Sibeko on SABC soapie Isidingo. Pictures: Supplied. Picture supplied.

Frank Xavier was Sibeko’s long-standing friend and comrade.

“We met during the struggle, and when we came back from exile, he followed a very successful commercial business path, while I stayed along my ethical journalist path. We would cross swords at times, but we would always get to a place where our friendship was above those differences. There is a deep sadness in my heart, now that he is no longer with us. Sibeko Gold was a phenomenal project as mining goes, and they created employment for many people. I think that Horizon Deep’s future is very much tied to Sibeko Gold.”

During his latter years, Sibeko was revealed to have a fiery temper and the abuse of his wife Katlego tarnished his standing as a leading family man and businessperson. Katlego refused to speak ill of her late husband, choosing only to reflect on the positive elements of their relationship.

“Jefferson was a man of principle who put family pride and honour above everything,” said Katlego. “He was a man of few words but was a very shrewd businessman who was well respected in the mining industry. His main flaw, however, was allowing others, specifically his brother, to always take credit for his hard work and effort.”

Nikiwe Sibeko (left) and Katlego Sibeko (center) at the funeral.

Nikiwe Sibeko (left) and Katlego Sibeko (center) at the funeral.

As this picture emerges about the sort of man Sibeko was, the details reveal that he also had weaknesses that contrasted starkly with his business success. At some point these shortcomings meant he was doomed to succumb to them. He was indeed a man with many masks: hero, innovator, abuser, employer, friend and family man. His family and friends remember a caring man who had some challenges to contend with.

His niece, Nikiwe Sibeko, said: “He was the father figure in my life, because my own father Lincoln was never around.”

See more pictures from the ‘funeral’ here:

Jefferson Sibeko’s funeral will air on Isidingo on July 25 on SABC3 at 7pm.