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SANEF Mourns the death of four journalists

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Like flowers that wither and die; Pic  Hopewell Radebe

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is saddened that the deadly Covid-19 pandemic continues to claim more journalist’s lives. We are mourning the death of four- specialist colleagues who excelled in their craft.

SANEF has learnt with great sadness of the passing of former SABC football analyst Coudjoe Amankwaa who died last Friday, Business Report (BR) journalist, Sandile Mchunu, former Daily Sun journalist, Sonqoba Kunene, died on Sunday. On Thursday morning, we learnt of the passing of Khopotso Bodibe, a former producer on SAFM, and later Health-E news died during the week.

Sandile Mchunu

Sandile died at the weekend after experiencing chest pains and couldn’t breathe. For days, he couldn’t get access to a doctor and when he finally managed to, he was immediately admitted to the hospital.

His colleagues described Sandile as a young, reliable, and totally dependable company reporter.

“A humble man, but always positive, a gentle soul, with a lovely laugh that brightened our days here at BR – no matter the prevailing environment. Always willing to go the extra mile, he had a bright future ahead of him. We journalists tend to be desk-bound and lazy. However, Sandile, with his thirst for life, ran the comrades. We were proud of him in his endeavours – on the road and off it. Never in a million thoughts, did I believe his light would be extinguished so soon – too soon,” wrote Philippa Larkin.

Sonqoba Kunene

Former Daily Sun journalist Sonqoba Kunene died last Sunday due to Covid-19 related complications following a week-long hospitalisation, according to information shared by his brother, Siyabonga.

He worked for Daily Sun as a journalist for over a decade reporting on news and politics. He also contributed articles to the Sedibeng Ster in the Vaal. At the time of his death, he was in the communications department of the Emfuleni Municipality.

Mapula Nkosi, Daily Sun’s Editor-in-Chief said: “The devastation of the coronavirus’ third wave has been felt deeply in the Daily Sun newsroom with the passing of former colleague Sonqoba less than two weeks after another SunMan Muntu Nkosi who was buried on July 16.”

“At such a young and productive age, his death leaves us bereft. It also leaves journalism poorer as we still looked forward to Sonqoba’s contribution. Our deepest condolences go out to his family,”

Coudjoe Amankwaa

Coudjoe died last Friday last week. SA Football Association (Safa) stakeholder relations director, Dominic Chimhavi, said Coudjoe from a cardiac arrest.

Born in Ghana, though he was a naturalised South African at the time of his death, Coudjoe was rushed to Sandton’s Mediclinic when he “couldn’t wake up for supper and upon arrival at the hospital he was declared dead”, Dominic said via WhatsApp on Friday night.

Dominic said Coudjoe will be remembered as having been an affable, approachable member of the SA football community. “He came to SA in 1994 and started working for Sowetan. And then he joined the Citizen, and from the Citizen, he joined the SABC.

“I am writing this with a heavy heart… Our friend, colleague and fellow, football lover, Coudjoe has suddenly passed away this evening. He was truly loved and was known as ‘Malume’. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace. I miss you already.” Tweeted Christophe Bongo, who had worked on SABC TV with Coudjoe, including on the hugely popular weekly SoccerZone show.

Khopotso Bodibe

Khopotso was regional programmes unit media and communications specialist for Sisonke gender justice also died this week of Covid-19 related complications.

Many journalists will remember him when he was a producer on SAFM and later Health-E news. He continued finding and reporting on health-related stories and address mental illness among other challenging topics weekly on Channel Africa on Tuesdays. He produced his ground-breaking programme “Living with HIV” package which was broadcast in more than one language on SABC radio stations and community radio.

Go well, Khops – thanks for the love and the hugs and for always fighting the good fight. The world is a poorer place. I know wherever you are, you will be the snappiest dresser. I hope you know how loved you were. Rest in peace “my liefie,” wrote Anso Thom, Health-e colleague and friend.

Mpiwa Mangwiro, his colleague at Sonke Gender Justice said: “I am personally indebted for his support in doing my advocacy work in the region. Many times, he helped profile and illuminate those efforts and constantly gave advice on what could be done better. It is unbelievable that he is gone. You ran your race so well. The beautiful memories we shared will remain dear in my heart.”

Kerry Cullinan, former editor of Health-e-News Service described Khopotso as a man of principle, dignity and honour who loved humanity deeply. “May we honour him in return and never forget his contribution to the struggle for justice in the health sector.”

SANEF expresses its heartfelt condolences to their family and the media fraternity. They will live on in the hearts of those they touched, for nothing loved is ever lost. Their zest for life will be missed. May their dear soul rest in eternal peace.

Note to Editors: The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists, and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. We are committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics, and diversity in the South African media. We promote excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. SANEF is not a union.

For more information please contact:

Sbu Ngalwa – SANEF Chairperson (073) 404-1415

Adriaan Basson – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 562-2113

Mahlatse Mahlase – Secretary General (083) 399-2852

Nwabisa Makunga – Treasurer (082) 555-1972

Mary Papayya – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (082) 379-4957

Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374

Judy Sandison – SANEF KZN Convenor (082) 571-3334

Katy Katopodis – SANEF Gauteng Convenor (082) 805-7022

Chiara Carter – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (082) 659-9162

Reggy Moalusi – SANEF Executive Director – (071) 682-3695

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]  Website: www.sanef.org.za

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