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Tough, driven and fearless: Tributes pour in for Karima Brown

Political journalist Karima Brown died of complications due to Covid-19. File picture: African News Agency

Political journalist Karima Brown died of complications due to Covid-19. File picture: African News Agency

Published Mar 4, 2021


Cape Town - Politicians, media industry heavyweights and colleagues have expressed shock and sadness at the death of veteran political journalist Karima Brown from complications due to Covid-19.

Brown, whose larger-than-life presence was both feared and respected and who has worked in newsrooms across the country for more than two decades, died on Thursday morning after being admitted to hospital last month. She was 54.

Brown will be laid to rest in accordance with Islamic rights in a small ceremony with invited guests only to comply with Covid-19 guidelines, her family said.

In a statement shared by her friend and fellow political commentator, Eusebius McKaiser, Brown’s family said plans for a public memorial would be announced at a later date.

Former public protector advocate Thuli Madonsela paid tribute to Brown’s commitment to getting to the heart of South Africa’s political struggles, posting on Twitter: “Still battling to wrap my mind around the news that Karima Brown is no more. This shocked me to the core. Heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues. Thank you for your fearless commitment to necessary conversations.”

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane also sent his condolences to her family and friends in a Twitter post.

ANC MP Faiez Jacobs said: “It is with immense sadness that we learn of the passing of Karima Brown, a remarkable woman, dyed-in-the wool activist and journalist par excellence. We don’t often sufficiently appreciate the important role that journalists play and the significant role Karima played in society.

“South Africa and the larger community of Cape Town are poorer for her loss. We shall miss her powerful presence in the public space, sharp wit and impeccable integrity. We may not always have agreed on every position she took or the angle of story she pursued, but we always respected her skill and ability to get the story out.

“We salute her and the immense contribution that she has made to our nascent democracy and for advancing the values upon which our nationhood is premised. A rose has been plucked from the garden of our struggle to build a better society and will be sorely missed.”

Lance Witten, chief content officer at African News Agency, paid tribute to Brown’s spirit and commitment.

“I worked with Karima during my time at the Cape Argus. She was one of the most driven leaders I've ever had the pleasure of working with. It seemed at times as if she never slept. If there was something shifting in the world of politics, she knew about it, and we were expected to match her energy about it like for like. And what an exhilarating and manic energy it was.

“Karima was tough. She was a fighter. She would never back down. But, she was also fair and understanding, with a wry sense of wit, quick to fire a spurred phrase along with a side-eye glance from behind her thick black-rimmed spectacles. She had a mischievous smile that matched the fire in her eyes. If she ever felt world-weary, I don't think she ever showed it.

“During an international media summit, we once sat side by side during a pretty heavy presentation. She tapped my knee and I opened my notepad for her to scribble a note to me, thinking it must be some profound observation about the presentation being made on the stage ahead of us. She leaned over and whispered: "Someone around here smells like they came straight in from a night of dopping". I could barely contain myself. Karima was funny. She was firm. She was smart. She was connected. She was plugged in. She was lively. She was vivacious. She was infectious. She was tenacious. The world is poorer without her.”

Here are some of the messages from Twitter:

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