Johannesburg - A day after Dudley Saunders died, his partner of three years had to move into the house they had dreamt up and built together.
Saunders, 45, the son of former television political journalist Cliff Saunders, was hit by a train in Soweto on Monday.
Bernadette Maguire spent the first day of the year trying to find her bearings in an unfamiliar space where she and Saunders had planned to spend the rest of their days.
“We’d had our whole wedding planned,” she said, “We were going to ride in on horses because we both loved riding.”
The couple were just waiting for their house to be completed.
Saunders was shooting cut-away footage for a train-surfing segment when he was hit by the train. The segment was for Arrow Media’s World’s Most Extreme and it was going to be broadcast in Australia.
“I think he misjudged the train’s distance when looking through the view-finder,” said Maguire, who wasn’t ready to hear the full details yet.
“He suffered a massive chest injury.”
The segment Saunders was working on was similar to the 2010 TV documentary he worked on with Sara Blecher, called Surfing Soweto.
“The thing about Dudley was that he would always go the extra mile,” said Maguire, her voice heavy with emotion.
Maguire said although the move to the Muldersdrift house was stressful, it was better than being overwhelmed by the memories in the home they previously shared.
“I just didn’t want to be there anymore… if he was here he would make everything all right, but he isn’t.”
Saunders and Maguire met while working for Carte Blanche. Maguire is a producer for the M-Net production, and when her cameraman got injured, everyone suggested she work with Saunders.
“We became best friends.”
Both were unhappily married at the time, so they left their partners to start a life together.
“It was the most harmonious, wonderful relationship. We never had an argument,” Maguire said, choking up. “How will I ever go out and shoot again? We did everything together… we rode, we cooked and worked together.
“Even the dogs are beside themselves… they’re looking for him.
“I used to call him ‘the chameleon’ because, whether he was speaking to a businessman or a beggar, he spoke to everyone with the same love and respect,” said Maguire.