The Wits Postgraduate Club remembered its fallen patrons who ‘contributed to the making of The Pig what it is today’. 

Family, friends and members of the Wits Postgraduate Club (the PiG) gathered for an hour-long heartwarming candle-lit memorial service to honour four of its loyal members. 

About 45 people showed up at the club on Main Campus on Friday, May 19, at 19:00 to pay their respects to late Wits alumni, Ricardo Oduah, Eddie Ombagi, Percy Makholwa and Mzwakhe Ngubeni who passed away between 2020 and 2023.  

Wits PhD law student and MC for the evening, Tulani Mafulela opened with a couple of jokes about the deceased, which took everyone down memory lane and lightened the mood in the room. He offered the guests drinks and urged them to treat the memorial like a party, to which they gladly obliged as they broke out in song.  

“I have known our four brothers since 2016. If you speak about Ricardo, you’ll end up speaking about Eddie and if you speak about Percy, you’ll also bring up Mzwakhe. They were all close and connected that way,” said Mafulela. 

The foursome had been members of the PiG since their studies and continued going until their untimely deaths. “Everyone knew them [at the club] and they deserve to be celebrated because they contributed to making the PiG what it is today,” said Flavia Kigozi who has officially been president of the club for a year. 

Wits mining engineering alumnus, Ricardo Oduah, passed away on August 3, 2022, at the age of 40, from heart-related complications. Oduah, who lived in Northcliff, regularly went for checkups, however, collapsed and died at work. His wife, Nonhlanhla Ngwenya, attended the memorial but asked a family friend, Leon Okonye, to present her speech as she felt overwhelmed. She later told Wits Vuvuzela that although the service had taken her “back to square one” she was glad that the club had acknowledged Oduah. 

Nonhlanhla Ngwenya and Leon Okonye celebrate the life of Ricardo Oduah at The Pig. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

Wits PhD holder in political science and international relations, Percy Makholwa, was undergoing chemotherapy for stage-four colon cancer when he passed away in March 2023 at the age of 39.  

“It was difficult being the sister of someone who was good at everything, but one of his greatest achievements was graduating at Wits,” said his 28-year-old sister, Zanele Makholwa. “When I saw him walk across that stage, I also wanted to do that and I’m glad I did,” the bachelor of nursing science honours graduate, said.  

Zanele Makholwa eulogises her late brother, Percy Makholwa, at the PiG. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

Mzwakhe Ngubeni passed away in 2020 because of a covid-19 stroke. “Mzwakhe was the biggest blow we had as a family here at the PiG. It was unexpected because he was only diagnosed on the day he passed,” said Kigozi. The mother and girlfriend of the computer science graduate could not make it to the memorial due to the travelling distance from Rustenburg, North West. The memorial was livestreamed for their benefit. 

Ngubeni’s best friend, Lerato Seohatse, told the gathering that he was grateful for the service because he could not attend his friend’s funeral since he had lost his mother around the same time.  

Lerato Seohatse sings a song to honour his best friend, Mzwakhe Ngubeni. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov

Another unexpected death was that of Eddie Ombagi, who graduated with a PhD in gender studies in 2019. He passed away in April 2023 at the age of 34 due to asphyxia.  

Kigozi told Wits Vuvuzela that the four had all passed away at a time when members of the club could not collectively grieve or attend their funerals for various reasons, hence the memorial service. 

“The idea was not for people to come and cry. The idea was to remember them and be happy that we got to share those moments with them at the PiG. That will speak to the fact that the PiG is more than just a bar and restaurant, it’s a home,” said Kigozi. 

The memorial officially ended at 20:30, however, Kigozi confirmed that they had stayed well past midnight as everyone continued to reminisce about the good times spent with the deceased.  

FEATURED IMAGE: The Wits Postgraduate Club members pose for a picture during the memorial service on Friday, May 19. Photo: Sfundo Parakozov