Johannesburg – Sunday, 20 March 2022 – South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Cricket South Africa (CSA) have today congratulated veteran broadcaster, Zolani Bongco, on his 250th One-Day International (ODI) live commentary in the Betway Pink ODI match between South Africa and Bangladesh at the Imperial Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg.
If one had to describe Bongco, these adjectives come to mind: heavyweight, passionate, proud, professional, disciplined, energetic, adaptable, and conversant.
Bongco joined the then Radio-Xhosa in King Williams Town on the 1st of September 1987 as an all-rounder presenter. He transcended all barriers imposed by the now impoverished apartheid system to master his talent as a gem-find in the broadcasting industry.
Affectionately known as The Izo-Man or ZB, Bongco is now a household name in the broadcast fraternity. Born at the Mount Coke Mission in King Williams Town, Eastern Cape, Bongco shared his cradling between the sport-crazy towns of King Williams Town and East London. His love for broadcasting began at infancy: according to his parents, he used to take an armpit roll-on and make-believe to be a microphone. When he later in life came across a real microphone, he instinctively knew that he had arrive home.
As one of the pioneers of black cricket commentators, Bongco boasts a rich tapestry of having covered six (6) ICC Cricket World Cups, more than 107 Tests, and 50-plus T20 Internationals in South Africa, Australia, England, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Endies, and the Netherlands.
While today marks his 250th ODI commentary milestone, it is also ironic and significant that his maiden assignment of doing match commentary was at a cricket match between South Africa and Australia, which was played at the Wanderers Stadium on 17th February 1994.
A monument in broadcasting, Bongco has shared his prestigious microphone with different greats of cricket, including Peter Bacela, Trevor Quirk, Sir Viv Richards, Sir Gerry Sobers, Khaya Majola, Jack Bannister, Colin Croft, Kepler Wessells, Tony Cozier, Graeme Pollock, Jeff Dojon, Geoffrey Boycott, Wasim Akram, Ramiz Raja, Michael Holding, Ian Bishop, Shane Warne, Courtney Walsh, Robin Jackman, Kass Naidoo, Arjuna Rawatunga, Aravinda De Silva, Makhaya Ntini, Neil Manthorp, Mfuneko Ngam, and Roshan Abysinghe.
In 2005 he represented the SABC at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on the Proteas Outbound Cricket Tour of Australia, becoming the first black commentator to do so.
He was nominated to the Panel of judges for the CSA Cricket Awards of 2004 and 2012 respectively and served alongside Vince Van Der Bijl, Graeme Pollock, Aslam Khota, Max Jordaan, Niels Momberg, and Colin Bryden.
Congratulating Bongco on his incredible achievement, CSA Chief Executive Officer, Pholetsi Moseki said, “CSA is proud to have veteran broadcasters of Bongco’s calibre, who are ardently committed to cricket. He is not only an extremely knowledgeable and fine commentor of the game, but also its die-hard fan. This abiding combination brings out in his eloquent commentary a palpable imagery, which transfigures his listeners to the field of play. This 250th ODI commentary milestone is testament of the passion that this humble giant holds so dearly to cricket and his undying love for broadcasting.
“We congratulate and thank him for all that he has done and continues to do for cricket in South Africa. Power to you The Izo-Man!”
Gary Rathbone, Head of SABC Sport said, “commentating on 250 ODI matches is certainly a major achievement. One that gives you a tremendous depth of knowledge and insight into the game, and we at SABC Sport are beaming as Zolani reaches this career milestone. Zolani is the champion of the SABC commentary booth and today, we celebrate our legend for an incredible journey thus far. Our audiences have been captivated by ZB’s passion and here’s hoping for another 250 matches of great commentary on the SABC from this iconic, knowledgeable and truly professional sport broadcaster.”
Joining the salutation of Bongco’s milestone, CSA Board Chairperson, Lawson Naidoo said, ZB is an embodiment of excellence, grit, and longevity. He is an institution in the field of broadcasting. He shared commentary booths with some of the cricket legends such as Michael Slater, Peter Roebrick, Tony Greg, Jim Maxwell, Geoff Lawsons, Kerry O’Keeffe, Damien Fleming, Terry Alderman, Glen Mitchell, Richie Benaud etc. This easily ranks him among the most outstanding broadcasters the country has ever produced”.
“It is also noteworthy that in 1994, ZB was one of the SABC Radio Anchors who were broadcasting the first elections of a free and democratic South Africa. This demonstrates his dynamism and versatility; virtues that are potent currency, beyond silver or gold. On behalf of the Board of Cricket South Africa, I would like to congratulate ZB on achieving this unbelievable feat. I also thank the SABC for availing this legend of the airwaves, the infrastructure, and the opportunity to serve cricket for over 28 years. This validates the public broadcaster’s commitment to growing cricket in the country, a dedication we share in, admire and applaud.”
Summing up his state of mind on his special day, Zolani Bongco said; “it feels great to have reached this milestone, and to be recognized, I must admit. I am having goosebumps. I can’t believe it. While I look back with pride and mixed emotions, I still have the temperament, the energy, the passion, and the love of cricket, and that’s what keeps me going.”
The SABC remains committed to broadcasting sport of national interest to millions of South African citizens.
Issued By: Group Communications
Media Enquiries: Ms. Gugu Ntuli (Group Executive: Corporate Affairs and Marketing)
NtuliGM@sabc.co.za|T. 011 714 3311|C. 071 877 0513