Heart attack suspected in Mnguni's death

Veteran photographer Bongani Mnguni.
Veteran photographer Bongani Mnguni.
Image: Bafana Mahlangu

Veteran photographer Bongani Mnguni's wife has told of the last moments before his death early yesterday.

Lucia Mnguni said when she woke up in their home in Horizon View, Roodepoort, on the West Rand, her husband was sitting on the bed. When she asked him what was wrong, he said he was not feeling well.

"He said he had pain in his chest and I noticed that he was struggling to breathe," she said. "I called the paramedics who arrived in less than 10 minutes. They did all they could [to try to save him], but we lost him."

Mnguni was 65.

"Bongani has dodged me. He left me unprepared to face the world alone. However, I am releasing his spirit to rest."

Lucia said her husband died from a suspected heart attack.

One of the many iconic images of June 16 1976 captured by the late Bongani Mnguni. During his career, he worked for City Press, Sowetan and Sunday World.
One of the many iconic images of June 16 1976 captured by the late Bongani Mnguni. During his career, he worked for City Press, Sowetan and Sunday World.

She said she held on to the wonderful memories they shared. "I want him to be remembered for the legend that he was in photography and for the love he had for his family."

Lucia said nothing could come between Mnguni and photography. "Since our marriage in 1996, I knew that my job was to support him because he loved what he did," she said, adding that no matter how busy his day was, Mnguni would call and check up on her every time.

"I don't know how I will go on without those loving calls. Everything collapsed when I saw him take his last breath. He was my life and I will never stop loving him."

Mnguni lived his life capturing pictures and family portraits from the streets and later ventured into newspapers. His work reflects the history of many South Africans, telling the stories of black people from the apartheid era.

Yesterday, tributes were pouring in for Mnguni and veteran journalist Juby Mayet, who also died on the same morning aged 80.

Mayet played a crucial role in fighting for the rights of journalists and nurturing many black voices in literature.

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