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SANEF pays tribute to veteran journalist and champion of truth and justice, Tony Heard

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28 March 2024

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) stands in solemn remembrance as the media industry bids farewell to a titan of journalism, Tony Heard.

With heavy hearts, SANEF mourns the passing of a doyen of a conscientious journalist whose contributions to the field left an indelible mark on South Africa and beyond. In 2022, Tony received the Lifetime Achiever Award at the Standard Bank Sikuvile Awards, organised by SANEF, a testament to his profound impact and enduring legacy.

In a statement released by his beloved children, it said; “Tony passed on peacefully on the morning of March 27, 2024, following a brief illness. At the age of 86.”

Tony has left behind a legacy of courage, integrity, and unwavering commitment to the principles of non-racialism, media freedom, and social justice.

Born Anthony Hazlitt Heard to George and Vida Heard in Johannesburg on November 20, 1937, Tony’s journey into journalism was shaped by his family’s connection to the profession. Raised alongside his brother Raymond by their mother Vida, herself a trailblazing journalist, Tony’s early years were marked by resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

Tony’s career trajectory, from a cub reporter at the Cape Times to an acclaimed editor, reflects his steadfast dedication to the pursuit of truth. His coverage of pivotal events, such as the historic anti-pass Langa march in 1960, showcased his bravery and commitment to shedding light on the injustices of apartheid South Africa. Tony’s journalistic integrity was further exemplified by his daring interview with banned ANC leader Oliver Tambo in 1985, a bold act that reverberated globally and underscored his unwavering belief in the power of dialogue and reconciliation.

Despite facing adversity, including his controversial dismissal as editor in 1987, Tony’s commitment to journalism never wavered. As a freelance journalist and internationally syndicated columnist, he continued to champion the cause of a free and democratic South Africa. His role as a media consultant and special adviser to government ministers during the transition to democracy further attests to his dedication to nation-building and inclusive governance.

Beyond his professional achievements, Tony was cherished as a devoted partner, loving father, and doting grandfather. Tony’s warmth, kindness, and zest for life endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him.

As we bid farewell to Tony, SANEF celebrates a life lived with purpose, integrity, and unwavering conviction. His legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of all those who were touched by his kindness, inspired by his courage, and guided by his wisdom. In honoring his memory, SANEF calls upon the media sector to recommit to the principles of truth, justice, and reconciliation that Tony so fiercely championed throughout his remarkable life.

As we mourn his passing, let us also celebrate the rich tapestry of experiences and memories that Tony leaves behind.

The Heard family has invited all those who wish to honour Tony’s memory to donate to a charity or organisation of their choice and to come together to celebrate his life and legacy, a true giant of journalism and a beloved member of the media fraternity.

SANEF wishes Tony a peaceful and eternal peace and that his spirit continues to inspire us all.

Please share your messages of support to the family  here 

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 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 by 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

Nwabisa Makunga – SANEF Deputy Chairperson (082) 555-1972

Dr. Glenda Daniels – SANEF Secretary-General (083) 229-9708

Tshamano Makhadi – Treasurer-General (082) 223-0621

Makhudu Sefara – SANEF Media Freedom Chair (079) 177-2134

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

Rochelle De Kock – SANEF Eastern Cape Convenor (072) 969-8028

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

Twitter: @SAEditorsForum

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.sanef.org.za