Tributes continue to pour in for apartheid photographer Peter Magubane who is remembered for his resilience

World-renowned South African photographer Peter Magubane at his exhibition of photographs at the Cape Town International jazz concert. Picture: Ian Landsberg.

World-renowned South African photographer Peter Magubane at his exhibition of photographs at the Cape Town International jazz concert. Picture: Ian Landsberg.

Published Jan 4, 2024


Photographers are among the most important creatives because, through their lenses, they can capture a moment that can last for a lifetime.

Seasoned fashion photographer Trevor Stuurman has shared a heartfelt tribute to the late legendary apartheid photographer Peter Magubane.

Magubane passed away on New Years Day at his home. He was 91. The anti-apartheid activist was known for capturing freedom fighters.

He was also a personal photographer for Nelson Mandela and captured several photographs of the Mandela family, now stored at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Orlando, Soweto.

As a game veteran, Magubane inspired many young photographers, including Stuurman, who looked up to him.

Stuurman remembered him with one of his powerful quotes during an interview with The Guardian in 2015.

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, captured by Peter Magubane. Picture: Instagram.

“I did not want to leave the country to find another life. I was going to stay and fight with my camera as my gun. I did not want to kill anyone, though. I wanted to kill apartheid,” Magubane said back then.

Peter Magubane being manhandled by the apartheid police. Picture: Instagram.

Stuurman’s followers also shared their fond stories of Magubane and his impact on ensuring the world knew what was happening in South Africa during apartheid.

One of Magubane’s most iconic photographs features a white baby girl sitting on a bench labelled: “Europeans Only”, while the child’s caregiver squats from behind because, as a black woman, she wouldn’t dare sit on seats reserved for whites.

“That photo of the carer and girl on the bench is such a disconcerting juxtaposition. Not worthy of sharing a wooden plank with, but servantly enough to let touch my child's hair. I will never understand it,” commented @knzisa.

Apartheid photography by Peter Magubane. Picture: Instagram.

Meanwhile, South African media personality Ashraf Garda described Magubane as a champion for South Africa.

“He did more than most using the lense of his camera to capture the history of the people of South Africa that were victims of the oppression of apartheid South Africa. I had the privilege of interviewing him a few years back for the #InTheSpotlight series that I hosted on the daily #AfternoonTalk show @safmradio: 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 Peter Magubane, Champion South African,” wrote Garda.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also took to X to share his tribute.

He wrote: “For most of his life, Peter Magubane created iconic visual records of our Struggle for freedom and of the full range of life in our country.”

“He documented our nation and the early years of freedom of Nelson Mandela with a prosaic passion that was powered as much by what he felt from the heart as what he saw through his lens.”

“He has, sadly, left us at the start of the year in which we are marking 30 years of freedom. As we revisit our journey to freedom and the progression of our democratic dispensation, Peter Magubane’s imagery will be an important part of our reflections. May his soul rest in peace.”