May 26 - Sam Nzima was in the process of moving into this new house with his family in Lilydale village in Mpumalanga when he collapsed and later died at hospital. Photo: Balise Mabona

BUSHBUCKRIDGE - Legendary photographer Sam Nzima died while preparations were under way for him and his family to move into a new double-story house built for him by Deputy President David Mabuza, Nzima's eldest son Thulani Nzima said on Saturday.

Thulani told the African News Agency (ANA) that his father collapsed on May 10 at their old home in the same village, about 5km away from the new house. “He was sorting out the key to the house when he collapsed.

“My father was happy for the house. He particularly liked the balcony for the fresh air. He also posed for a number of pictures in many parts of this house,” Thulani said.

The house had three bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen, and two garages, and was built on a piece of land belonging to Sam Nzima, he said.

Sam Nzima died on May 12 at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela (Nelspruit) after a short illness. He was 83. Nzima is best known for capturing the famous picture of Mbuyisa Makhubu carrying Hector Pieterson after the latter was shot during the 1976 Soweto uprisings.

Thulani said his mother Thelma Nzima continued with the preparations to move into the house after her husband was admitted to hospital. 

He said his father had been earning most of his income by renting out a property consisting of a liquor shop and a butchery, which is situated in the yard of their old home in the village.

Addressing mourners during Nzima’s funeral on Saturday, Mabuza said he built the house for Nzima. He did not mention the capacity in which he built the house, but pointed out that he would soon make arrangements to have it furnished.

“Unfortunately, I could not share the space with him in the house while he was alive,” said Mabuza.

Nzima was buried on his farm in the village on Saturday. He is survived by his wife Thelma, seven children, 15 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

African News Agency/ANA