Tommy, a guardian angel for his children

19 March 2008 - 02:00
By unknown

Nhlanhla Mbatha

Nhlanhla Mbatha

I will never see Tommy again.

On Sunday evening, Tommy Tshunyane Makoe, a friend, colleague, comrade and brother, died in a car accident in Diepkloof, Soweto.

I have known Tommy, pictured, since the early 1990s when he was at TheStar newspaper and I at the South African Press Association. We often met at news conferences or covering news events. At that time Tommy had just completed a university degree and the vestiges of student militancy were still visible in him.

He flirted with communism and often quoted Karl Marx, Mao Tse-Tung, Friedrich Engels, Joseph Stalin and Vladimir Lenin. During those days it was fashionable to do so. Later we would meet intermittently at local pubs, music festivals, shopping malls or the car wash in the township.

Two years ago I met Tommy, now an adult and married with two children, at a bus stop at Ormonde View, where he and his family had bought a beautiful corner house.

We chatted and reminisced about the past and I cautioned him about owning a corner house - a preserve of the bourgeois in communist terms. He laughed it off and told me that communism had evolved and he was entitled to the riches.

At that time he was working for the Ministry of Health in Pretoria as deputy director of communications. He complained about having to leave home at 4am only to return at 8pm and said he was fast becoming a stranger to his children.

As a parent, I understood his plight. He asked me to organise him a job at Sowetan and, as friends always do, I obliged.

He worked with me at Sowetan as an excellent sub-editor and talented features writer. At the time of his death he was a sub-editor at the Sunday Sun.

Editor Linda Rulashe said Makoe's death was tragic. "Though he had just joined us, he was very much part of the Sunday Sun family. He will be sorely missed."

Tommy, 41, loved his family and I am confident that in him his wife Maud and children have a true guardian angel up above.

He is survived by his wife, children, five brothers and three sisters.

He will be buried on Saturday at Avalon Cemetery after a service at the Bapedi Hall in Zone 3 Meadowlands, Soweto, from 7am.