Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma, political parties and the broadcasting community on Sunday paid tribute to SABC television and radio presenter Vuyo Mbuli.
The SABC reported that Mbuli, 46, collapsed while watching a rugby match between the Cheetahs and the Reds at the Free State Stadium on Saturday night.
He was treated at the scene before being rushed to the Mediclinic hospital in Bloemfontein, where he later died.
Zuma praised Mbuli's contribution and said his death was a loss to the nation.
“It is hard to think of a more patriotic and positive person than Vuyo,” Zuma said in a statement.
“He was always cheerful and the whole nation will miss his smile and encouraging words.
“I wish to express, on behalf of the government and the entire South African population, our words of condolence to the Mbuli family, friends and the South African Broadcasting Corporation.”
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who was in London, paid tribute to Mbuli as a “constantly reassuring presence on our television screens over two tumultuous decades”.
“With gentle and genteel style, perfectly suited to morning television and radio, his was for many people the first and most trusted analysis of the daily news,” Tutu said in a statement.
South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani said in a statement that it was difficult to express the loss South Africans felt at Mbuli's death.
“He was a great fan and admirer of our national football team. We pray for his family to remain strong as they mourn his passing.”
Former 2010 Fifa World Cup local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan said he was shocked by Mbuli's sudden death.
“We have worked with Vuyo on many occasions while bidding and during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
“He always displayed greatest professionalism in everything he did,” Jordaan said.
The South African National Editors' Forum said it was deeply saddened by the loss of the “much-loved and respected journalist”.
Chairman Nic Dawes said: “He was also known for his hard work, dedication and an ability to keep his cool under pressure.”
South African Human Rights Commission spokesman Isaac Mangena said Mbuli left a legacy of journalistic integrity that established him as a legend of the media industry.
“As a veteran journalist and commentator, Mr Mbuli was always committed to creating a platform for discussion and debate on difficult human rights issues facing our country.”
Earlier, Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said: “We have lost a patriot; a true believer in the ideals of South Africa; his wit and smile will forever be missed from our television screens.”
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille extended the City's condolences to Mbuli's family, friends and colleagues.
“His warm, thoughtful and engaging style of conducting interviews made every interview with him a pleasurable encounter.”
The South African Communist Party said Mbuli's professionalism would be greatly missed, while the Inkatha Freedom Party said Mbuli had dedicated his life's work to the country he loved.
The Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, the South African National Civic Organisation, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa and the National Union of Mineworkers also paid tribute to Mbuli.
Government Communications and Information System acting chief executive Phumla Williams said the government was saddened by the veteran journalist's death.
“Government expresses its deepest condolences to his family, friends and the media industry. Vuyo has touched the hearts of South Africans through his work.”
The SABC expressed its shock and “great sadness” at Mbuli's death.
Spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement that Mbuli, who was a Morning Live and SAFM presenter, had shown dedication and loyalty to his job, as well as the South African public, through his work.
“He was one of the first presenters on Morning Live, when it began to broadcast in November 1999 and he had maintained his position until his untimely death.
“This speaks volumes of the love that the public had for him, and the great talent and skill he possessed through his presenting and knowledge base.”
On Sunday, condolences poured in from parties across the political spectrum, including the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the Young Communist League of South Africa, the ANC Youth League in Limpopo and the Democratic Alliance.
DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said: “He personified what it meant to be a warm, engaging and tolerant South African.”
Congress of the People spokesman Dennis Bloem described Mbuli as “a zealous newshound who stood for the truth in public interest and remained fiercely objective at all times”.
Azanian People's Organisation spokesman Funani ka Ntontela praised Mbuli's multilingualism, saying this skill gave him the ability to make a broad spectrum of guests on his talk shows feel at ease.
ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu described Mbuli as “an outspoken linguist who took pride in celebrating the diversity of South Africa and its people”.
“For decades, Vuyo Mbuli has been a constant presence in South African homes, tackling various issues of national importance with wit, charm, respect and an all-embracing and inclusive manner.”
The ANC also praised Mbuli's tireless efforts in promoting dialogue on various issues of relevance to South Africa's national discourse.
“In this, the last time, his signature sign off - ‘sharp sharp’ - came too soon and he will be sadly missed,” Mthembu said.
The Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) described Mbuli as a lively and intuitive presenter with exceptional qualities.
“He was prone to using phrases such as 'Goeie Genade', 'Eita daar' and more famously his brand mark was 'sharp sharp',
“It is these small things that make such men unforgettable,” it said in a statement.
The South African Democratic Teachers' Union said Mbuli made all South Africans feel welcome in their country.
“He greeted us in all 11 African languages... his presentations, peppered with South African lingo, made many of us feel at home,” said Sadtu's general secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
A family spokesperson told the SABC that the cause of death had not yet been determined.
The spokesperson requested that the family's privacy be respected as they tried to come to terms with Mbuli's death.
Reports on Monday morning said a memorial service for Mbuli will be held at SABC, Auckland Park, on Wednesday. He will be buried on Friday. - Sapa