Zubeida ‘Juby’ Mayet
Veteran journalist and writer Zubeida “Juby” Mayet has been described as one of the leading giants of black journalism.

She died from an undisclosed illness at home in Lenasia, Gauteng, on Saturday at the age of 80.

Her death coincided with that of fellow veteran journalist photographer Bongani Mnguni, who died at his home in Roodepoort on the same day.

One of Mayet’s long-time friends, fellow journalist and pioneer in helping to establish anti-apartheid alternative media, Rashid Seria, paid tribute to her yesterday.

Seria had served with Mayet in the national executive committees of the apartheid-opposing Union of Black Journalists and the Writers Association of South Africa, which were forerunners of the Media Workers Association of South Africa.

Seria said Mayet had been a true media martyr who dedicated her life to the struggle for a free press in this country.

“She was part of a unique breed of journalists of the 1970s and 80s that fearlessly resisted the apartheid regime in the media, often in the face of detentions, house arrests and bannings. They took the fight to expose apartheid atrocities to numerous fronts,” said Seria.

“They challenged internal censorship at English establishment newspapers, started journalist movements to indoctrinate writers politically about the then situation in the country, launched independent publications to shamelessly glorify the battles for freedom, and designed creative schemes on how media could be used to organise people.

“That special group that Juby epitomised may be surpassed by a newer breed of investigative writers - a non-racial one - that so effectively continues to expose corruption, patronage, public thieving, misrule and state abuse. We owe all of them a great debt of gratitude,” added Seria.

Mnguni’s widow, Lucia Mnguni, said he died an hour after having complained of chest pains.

“He had a beautiful heart and loved his family. He treated everyone like he was family.”

Mnguni started as a freelance photographer in 1972, and later worked for the Sowetan, City Press, Sunday World and other publications as a photographer. He became well known for documenting the horrors of apartheid in Gauteng townships in the 70s and 80s.

In a statement, the ANC said: “Baba Mnguni is among many photojournalists who dedicated their lives to expose the brutality of the apartheid system. He was beaten up, harrassed and almost buried alive but such action by the apartheid forces never deterred Baba Mnguni.”