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SANEF mourns the death of four journalists

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) deeply mourns the deaths of four journalists who died in the past week from Covid-19 complications.

SANEF has learnt with great sadness of the passing of Sunday Independent news editor and investigative journalist Solly Maphumulo; Former Cape Argus photographer Enver Essop; resource coordinator in the SABC newsroom in KZN, Ismail Jinnah, and senior political journalist Knowledge Simelane of Ilanga Newspaper in KwaZulu-Natal.

Solly Maphumulo

Sunday Independent news editor Maphumulo died on Tuesday from Covid-19 related complications.

Zingisa Mkhuma, Sunday Independent editor, said Solly’s death was a tragic loss both for her family and the journalism fraternity. “I called her soldier because of her ability to investigate and get to the bottom of things.”

“She fell ill as soon as she came back from leave last week. She had complained about a tight chest even before we broke off for the festive season. She was admitted to hospital last Tuesday 5th January and she told me they had placed her on oxygen and had given her a drip. I thought she would be out in a few days and I was shocked to be told she passed away.”

“I was very fond of her and she was one of the young ladies I had hoped would be the leaders in our newsroom in the near future,” she said.

Former colleague and friend Baldwin Ndaba said Solly came to The Star during an exodus of black women journalists in the newsroom mostly to join private companies while others took jobs in government.

He said the rural girl from KwaMaphumulo in KwaZulu-Natal did not disappoint; her rise in journalism was like lightning. She exposed the shenanigans at the Hawks during the tenure of General Berning Ntlemeza. She broke the story on some law enforcement authorities and criminals using “grabbers”, to intercept conversations of private individuals. Her stories also exposed factions in the Hawks. The NPA was not spared either. She exposed injustices, favouritism and maladministration in the Gauteng division of the NPA – an effort she carried out meticulously.

Her former colleague Cecilia Russell described her as a “brilliant and determined journalist”. “She was brave. She became a top-class journalist, investigative reporter and a brilliant friend.”

Enver Essop

Former Cape Argus photographer Enver Essop died at the age of 54 on Tuesday after contracting Covid-19. Essop worked for several news publications, including Die Burger, the Cape Argus and the Cape Times. He was described by colleagues as a “gentle giant”.

Independent Media editor-in-chief Aneez Salie said: “I am saddened by the news. It was a pleasure working with Enver, nothing was too far for him. It is a reminder to our colleagues to be cautious and to take this virus seriously.” Salie was the Cape Times night news editor at the time he worked closely with Essop.

Photographer Ian Landsberg said: “Very few of the Argus photographers had the ability to capture the nuances of township life. He was a passionate photographer and he captured stories that you could really feel. He took his time when he went out on jobs to really capture an image and tell a beautiful story.”

Ismail Jinnah 

Veteran SABC television and radio producer, Ismail Jinnah, passed away last week following Covid-19 complications at the age of 65. He retired in 2019.

Former colleague Izak Minnaar described Jinnah, who was resource coordinator in the SABC newsroom in KZN when he retired, as an outstanding researcher and trainer.

“He was passionate about training young journalist on how to use technology to advance their careers. He came up with lots of tricks and digital techniques that enabled journalists to excel in researching content for their stories and also to grow their digital skills in studio production,” he said.

Minnaar said Jinnah spent the last years of his career involved the planning and deployment of teams for major projects such as elections.

Former Durban colleague and SANEF KZN convenor Judy Sandison said: “Ismail was a very dedicated and hardworking person whose commitment to excellence shone through in every project he undertook at SABC news – during his time both in Johannesburg and in Durban. He was also a digital fundi who trained news staff to expand their work across digital platforms.”

Knowledge Simelane

Veteran political writer Knowledge Simelane died from a suspected Covid-19 related illness yesterday.

Editor Philani Mgwaba described Knowledge Simelane as a man with a fountain of political knowledge and a thorough understanding of government political dynamics, especially in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“His death has come as a great shock to us. To die alone as he did is incredibly sad. Knowledge was a great and unique human being with an infectious laughter and a great sense of humour, which was a tonic to all of us in the newsroom,” he said.

He will leave a great void at Ilanga and we wish to express our sincere condolences to the Simelane family.

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

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

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

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

Asanda Ngoasheng – Western Cape Convenor – 082 610 9374

Kate Skinner – SANEF Executive Director – (082) 926-6404

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

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

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