Cricket South Africa (CSA) has learnt with sadness of the passing former cricketer and selection panellist, Winky Ximiya who died in Gqeberha on Saturday after a long illness. He was 79.
A cricketer of note during his time, Ximiya excelled as an explosive no.3 batsman and wicketkeeper. He stems from an era where sport was the vehicle to galvanise the struggle for a non-racial and free South Africa.
He was instrumental in unifying the Fort Beaufort Cricket Club and New Brighton Cricket Club to form the United Cricket Club in 1976. His proximity to visionary leaders like Dan Qeqe, Silas Nkanunu, and Wilfred Khovu allowed space for non-racialism to flourish amongst the youth.
Ximiya was a member of the CSA selection panel from 2008, just before the historic series victory in Australia which put South Africa on top of both the Test and the ODI rankings.
He was also a qualified pharmacist and business leader. In the early days of his practice, the apartheid government restricted him to operate his pharmacy at KwaZakhele, in the Eastern Cape province as blacks could not trade outside of the townships.
He later moved to Johannesburg to pursue further business ventures. As a civic leader, Winky guided the youth in dealing with the aftermath of the 16 June 1976 uprising and quietly managed their safe passage into exile. Some returned to a free South Africa.
Paying tribute to Ximiya’s contribution to cricket, CSA Chief Executive Officer, Pholetsi Moseki said:
“Ximiya and his generation fought selflessly and tirelessly to achieve the non-racial cricket dispensation that we all enjoy today. He was part of the collective to whom we owe tons of gratitude for their immense contribution, on and off the field. This is what makes his passing so painfully significant.
“His footprints will remain indelibly with us as will his deeds. We are indeed indebted to Ximiya’s memory to do what we can to develop and enrich the cricket pipeline.”
CSA Board Chairperson, Lawson Naidoo said:
“Winky has etched his name favourably in the ledgers of cricket history. He has without doubt fought the unjust apartheid system to achieve a unified cricket family. Through that valiant fight, he earned the respect of friends and foes for his unwavering stance on what is right.
“He will in the minds of many South Africans forever remain a monument of sacrifice and dedication to the game.
“On behalf of the Cricket South Africa Board, I send my heartfelt condolences to the Ximiya family on the passing of this giant but gentle servant of the game, with the assurance that their loss is deeply shared. I also send commiserations to the many people who interacted with Ximiya and who were touched by his generous spirit.”