Sanef saddened by deaths of four journalists from Covid-19 related complications

The SA National Editors' Forum has expressed sadness over the deaths of four journalists from Covid-19 related complications. Stock photo.
The SA National Editors' Forum has expressed sadness over the deaths of four journalists from Covid-19 related complications. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/perig76

The SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) has expressed sadness over the deaths of four journalists who succumbed to Covid-19 related complications.

“Sanef has learnt with great sadness of the passing of former SABC football analyst Coudjoe Amankwaa who died last Friday, Business Report (BR) journalist Sandile Mchunu [and] former Daily Sun journalist Sonqoba Kunene, who died on Sunday,” the forum said in a statement on Friday.

Khopotso Bodibe, a former producer on SAfm and later Health-E news, also died this week.

Sanef said Mchunu died at the weekend after experiencing chest pains and could not breathe. He had apparently struggled to get access to a doctor and when he did, was immediately admitted to hospital.

Colleagues described Sandile as a young, reliable and totally dependable company reporter.

“A humble man, but always positive, a gentle soul, with a lovely laugh that brightened our days here at BR — no matter the prevailing environment. Always willing to go the extra mile, he had a bright future ahead of him.

“We journalists tend to be desk-bound and lazy. However, Sandile, with his thirst for life, ran the Comrades. We were proud of him in his endeavours — on the road and off it. Never in a million thoughts, did I believe his light would be extinguished so soon — too soon,” wrote Philippa Larkin.

Kunene died last Sunday due to Covid-19 related complications after a weeklong hospitalisation, according to information shared by his brother Siyabonga.

He had worked for the Daily Sun as a journalist for more than a decade reporting on news and politics. “He also contributed articles to the Sedibeng Ster in the Vaal. At the time of his death, he was in the communications department of the Emfuleni municipality.”

Daily Sun editor-in-chief Mapula Nkosi said: “The devastation of the coronavirus’ third wave has been felt deeply in the Daily Sun newsroom with the passing of former colleague Sonqoba less than two weeks after another SunMan Muntu Nkosi who was buried on July 16.

“At such a young and productive age, his death leaves us bereft. It also leaves journalism poorer as we still looked forward to Sonqoba’s contribution. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.”

Amankwaa reportedly died last Friday.

SA Football Association (Safa) stakeholder relations director Dominic Chimhavi said he died from cardiac arrest.

Born in Ghana, though he was a naturalised South African at the time of his death, Coudjoe was rushed to Sandton’s Mediclinic when he “couldn’t wake up for supper and upon arrival at hospital he was declared dead”, Dominic said via WhatsApp on Friday night.

Chimhavi said he will be remembered as having been an affable, approachable member of the SA football community. “He came to SA in 1994 and started working for Sowetan. And then he joined the Citizen, and from the Citizen he joined the SABC.

“I am writing this with a heavy heart ... Our friend, colleague and fellow, football lover, Coudjoe has suddenly passed away this evening. He was truly loved and was known as ‘Malume’. May His Soul Rest in Eternal Peace. I miss you already,” tweeted Christophe Bongo, who had worked on SABC TV with Coudjoe, including on the popular weekly SoccerZone show.

Bodibe, who was regional programmes unit media and communications specialist for Sisonke gender justice, also died this week of Covid-19 related complications, Sanef said.

“Many journalists will remember him when he was a producer on SAfm and later Health-E news. He continued finding and reporting on health-related stories and addressed mental illness among other challenging topics weekly on channel Africa on Tuesdays. He produced his ground-breaking programme 'Living with HIV' package which was broadcast in more than one language on SABC radio stations and community radio,” the forum said.

Mpiwa Mangwiro, his colleague at Sonke Gender Justice, said: “I am personally indebted for his support in doing my advocacy work in the region. Many times, he helped profile and illuminate those efforts and constantly gave advice on what could be done better. It is unbelievable that he is gone. You ran your race so well. The beautiful memories we shared will remain dear in my heart”.

Kerry Cullinan, former editor of Health-e News Service, described Bodibe as a man of principle, dignity and honour who loved humanity deeply. 

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