Colleagues pay tribute to Sam Nzima
LEGENDARY photojournalist Sam Nzima’s family are happy that the government did not wait until his death before honouring him.
He died over the weekend in Mpumalanga at the age of 83.
His son, Thulani Nzima, told a memorial service yesterday that the photojournalist, famous for the iconic photograph of dying schoolboy Hector Pieterson in 1976, died just as he was due to move into a house built for him by the Mpumalanga provincial government.
“(Former premier) David Mabuza, in particular, has built a decent house for Sam Nzima,” Thulani said.
“Sadly, Sam was preparing to move into this house on Thursday last week when he received the keys.
“While he was busy sorting out those keys, he collapsed without having taken occupation of this house.
“That is the sad part. But as I speak to you now, all of us are gathered at Sam’s new home,” added Thulani.
The memorial service Thulani addressed via conference telephone was held in Parktown, Joburg.
Veteran journalists took turns paying homage to their former colleague, with some reflecting on the price many of them paid for reporting on the apartheid government.
Thulani told them a legacy museum and cultural village in his father’s memory was in the pipeline. It would be built on a 3-hectare piece of land adjacent to the new home.
His grave would also be on this piece of land, making it a “shrine, a monument”, Thulani said.
“We assure you, former colleagues of the late Sam Nzima, that the government of Mpumalanga and the national government are right behind this project.
“When you see such activities happening, do not interpret it as the reactionary thing from the government now that Sam is no more. The government has reached out to him in a big way,” he said.
Nzima would be buried in a special provincial official funeral‚ the Presidency announced on Wednesday.
A photojournalist attached to The World newspaper in 1976, Nzima captured a photograph showing a crying Mbuyisa Makhubu and Antoinette Sithole rushing the fatally wounded 13-year-old Hector to a car.
The picture became a major symbol of the Struggle.
Suzette Mafuna, Nzima’s former colleague, said the Hector photo fuelled global anger against apartheid.
Her homage to Nzima was read out in a letter she penned from Toronto, Canada. Mafuna remembered the photojournalist as being “always kind, gentle and charming”.
“Sam simply focused on producing the best work possible,” she said.
Artist Lebani Sirenje paints a portrait of the late photojournalist Sam Nzima, who took the iconic image of a dying Hector Pieterson during the 1976 Soweto uprising. Nzima was remembered by his colleagues and friends at a memorial service in Parktown, Joburg yesterday.