By Chris Totobela
A dark cloud has continued to hang over Makhanda’s sports fraternity as one of the local rugby stalwarts passes on. Winter rose flank forward Fikile Kulati succumbed to a long battle with diabetes on 18 April 2023.
The 63-year-old Kulati started his rugby career at Nathaniel Nyaluza high school, where he made a name for himself. He went on to further his studies at The Cape College, where he was trained as an educator in 1981. He was one of the key players for Winter Rose and played an important role in the all-conquering 1983 team that was crowned as Sedru champions. Winter Rose president and former teammate Ramie Xonxa told Grocott’s Mail about Kulati’s exploits.
“Fikile was one of the greatest players that have ever donned the Winter Rose jersey. He was an elusive and fast flank forward who was feared by the opponents. I used to transport him together with Mvuleni Khonzi, who was our flyhalf from Fort Beaufort to Makhanda for our big games, and that shows how important he was to the team,” said Xonxa.
His most memorable game was against old rivals Swallows which Brandon Mentoor then coached. Swallows pressed Winter Rose in their half for a significant period of that game, and Kulati stole the ball from his own twenty-two line and ran over the centre line to Swallow’s twenty-two line and laid off a perfect pass to his winger, who made no mistake and dived on the dotted line. Due to his health problems, Kulati played no role in rugby at the time of his passing.
Xonxa sent his heartfelt condolences on behalf of Winter Rose to the Kulati family and mentioned that the club will have a prayer meeting on Wednesday, 26 April, at his home, 32 Daniels Street, at 17:00, and everyone is welcome to attend.