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NGONYAMA, Sindile Alfred

Born: 1958 09 11
Died: 2021 07 18


BArch 1986 (Cape Town)

Was born in Middleburg in 1958 and grew up in Whittlesea.

Sindile Ngonyama's career started off as a Draughtsman, for the then Ciskei Government. In 1980 for top performance in the 18 month training course, which he completed in 11 months, he received a bursary to study Architecture, at the University of Cape Town. On completion he worked both for government and private sectors, until he was approached by PLAN ARCHITECTS INCORPORATED, to start and set up their Eastern Cape office, in East London in 1993.

In 1997, he started NGONYAMA OKPANUM & ASSOCIATES together with Dr I OKPANUM, as architectural firm in East London. Within a very short period this practice grew to have offices in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Sindile has been involved with a number of development initiatives, that include community development structures at no cost, to high profile professional engagements and has travelled extensively internationally, interacting with a wide variety of business people and professionals.

He was president of the Border Kei Institute of Architects from 2009 to 2010 and Vice-President-in-Chief of the South African Institute of Architects for 2011-12 and for 2013-14.

He is married with two daughters and one son.

(BKIA website; Daily Dispatch 2012 09 28:12)

In November 2017, The South African Institute of Architects awarded him with a Gold Medal of Distinction, in recognition of his contribution towards the development and promotion of the architectural profession.

(Submitted by William Martinson)


OBITUARY - SINDILE ALFRED NGONYAMA (11-09-1958 - 18-07-2021)

From humble beginnings as a child in Middleburg in the Karoo, his family was forcibly removed to a township in Whittlesea, near Queenstown. This is where he completed most of his schooling and after matriculating, he worked in the Ciskei Dept of Public Works Drawing Office. Sindile always had an aptitude for arts and handcrafts and was granted a bursary to study architecture at University of Cape Town.

Sindile Ngonyama graduated Bachelor of Architecture in 1986 and worked in both private and government sectors before opening a branch office for Plan Architects in East London in 1993. He was the 5th black architect to qualify in South Africa while still under the Apartheid regime.

Sindile was the founding director of Ngonyama Okpanum & Associates in 1997. In more recent times he has practiced under the name Ngonyama & Associates, in partnership with Dean JACOBY.

His achievements have been many and include:

  • Deputy President of SABTACO up until 1999.
  • He was also instrumental in the establishment of the Mdantsane Development Trust.
  • Appointed by the National Dept of Public Works to run the Contractor Development Programme.
  • From 1998 - 2001 he served on the National Programme Management Team for Community Based Public Works Programme (CBPWP). This programme saw the rollout of projects to the total amount of R1 Billion.
  • The University of Fort Hare appointed him to develop the turnaround strategy known as Vision 2000 where he worked together with Dr. Julian Elliott putting together a physical masterplan strategy and went on to complete a number of buildings for the University including two Awards of Merit which included a Library facility housing WSU, UNISA and Fort Hare.
  • He was part of a team appointed to do the architectural and urban design guidelines for the Coega Deepsea Water Port as well as the design guidelines for Port St Johns Heritage Project.
  • He was also the Head of the programme management team appointed by Dept of Public Works Eastern Cape to manage the school building programme in the province from 2002 - 2007 and from time to time served as an external examiner for the School of Architecture at UCT.

Sindile Ngonyama served on the SAIA Border Kei Regional Committee from 2006 and rose to election as President of the Border Kei Institute of Architects in 2009. He went on to become the longest serving President of SAIA National from 2013 to 2016. During this time he was instrumental in hosting the UIA Conference in 2014 and transitioning SAIA into its new Constitution. He was a great unifying factor in a difficult time for the profession.

His steady growth in stature as a statesman and voice in the profession gained the respect of all, and his loyal service to the betterment of the practice of Architecture and the transformation of our environment, earned him recognition at the highest level. His 4 years at the helm and selfless dedication to the organization, went well beyond the call of duty and it was due to this that he was awarded the SAIA Medal of Distinction in 2017.

May he rest in peace in the glorious eternity in which he believed and professed.

Our sincere condolences go to his wife, Zanele and 3 children and also to his loyal partners and staff.

Written by Al Stratford on behalf of SAIA Border Kei

(Submitted by William Martinson)

Books citing NGONYAMA

South African Institute of Architects. 2014. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2013/2014. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pp 9, 29, 59