Basil Neo Sipho Bridgeman Bikitsha, better known as Doc, has died at the age of 77.
The veteran journalist and story-teller supreme had been in and out of hospital for the past three years suffering from diabetes. He was admitted to the Tshepo Themba Clinic in Dobsonville, Soweto on December 26 and died at the clinic on Saturday night.
Shocked academic and former journalist Phil Mtimkulu said the loss of Bikitsha marked "the end of an era".
Certainly Bikitsha's death has closed a chapter on the hell-raising and irreverent writers of the Drum magazine era from the 1950s to the 1970s.
During his illustrious career Bikitsha rubbed shoulders with many of the country's best writers, including such giants as Es'kia Mphahlele, Lewis Nkosi, Stan Motjuwadi, Casey Motsisi, Obed Musi, Ali Twala, Leslie Sehume, Joe "Texan Cowboy" Gumede, Jerry Khumbane, Bob Gosani and the guru of journalists, Can Themba.
In addition to Drum, Bikitsha also worked for the Golden City Post, Bantu World, the Rand Daily Mail and The Sunday Times.
Bikitsha was born on November 19 1930 at the Bridgeman Memorial Hospital in Mayfair, Johannesburg. His family lived in Madubulaville township, outside Randfontein on the West Rand.
Bikitsha was a gifted musician and, in his own words, an "all round but average" sportsman who played football and tennis, and who pursued bodybuilding, which remained his first love.
Though he trained as a teacher at Roma College in Lesotho and later at the Normal College in Pretoria, Bikitsha never taught, but was lured into journalism.
At the time of going to press the Bikitsha family had not yet made funeral arrangements.