These were just some of the glowing tributes to SABC journalist Suna Venter, 32, who died last week. On Tuesday, her friends, family and colleagues gathered at the Ned Geref Kerk in Fairland, Johannesburg, to pay homage to the “brave and courageous” journalist and radio producer.
Venter was among the so-called “SABC 8” journalists who revolted against the public broadcaster’s editorial policy that prohibited the coverage of violent protests, among other issues.
Venter’s colleagues in the SABC 8 group, including Thembeka Gqubule and Krivani Pillay, were among the mourners who attended the memorial service.
Venter was described as a person who was “deeply compassionate” about helping people from all walks of life, and as an extremely zealous individual who stood ferociously in defence of her ideals.
Gqubule said she was devastated when she heard of Venter’s death.
“I can’t describe all the emotions that went through my heart at the time, but the most dominant was shock,” Gqubule told reporters at the church.
Venter’s brother, Wilhelm, spoke about some of his fond memories of her.
“A lioness is what you were, fiercely protecting the ones you love,” he said, fighting back tears.
Venter’s sister, Tessa, reminisced about their conversations over a glass of wine or cappuccino.
“My sister was a jewel,” she said.
“She was a wonderfully unique individual. She had the softest heart that you could ever find,” an emotional Tessa added.
Venter’s father, Philip, cast a forlorn figure, visibly distraught at the untimely death of his daughter. He said his daughter gave a new meaning to the expression “life is fair”.
“Suna found more things beautiful, wonderful and worthwhile.”
Foeta Krige, SABC’s executive producer of news and actuality programmes, said he was still saddened by Venter’s death.
A slide show of a cheerful Venter in her childhood and some of her recent moments in her career was shown, with some of her favourite songs playing in the background.
Venter died last Thursday after being diagnosed with a cardiac condition known as stress cardiomyopathy or “broken heart syndrome”.
Her body was discovered in her Johannesburg flat.
Her family said she had been battling with stress in the past year as she had been attacked, shot at, abducted and tied to a tree at Melville Koppies while the grass around her was set alight.
“Her flat was broken into on numerous occasions and her car tyres were slashed and the brake cables cut,” the family said.