Tributes for Zwelakhe Sisulu
ZWELAKHE Sisulu paid his dues for his role in the fight for liberation, said South African Press Ombudsman Joe Thloloe.
Thloloe had nothing but praise for Sisulu, who passed away at his home in Greenside, Joburg, yesterday.
“The Sisulu family is deeply saddened to advise of the untimely passing of Zwelakhe Sisulu, third son of Walter and Albertina Sisulu. The precise cause of death is yet to be confirmed. He has, however, been suffering from complications of diabetes,” the family said.
Sisulu, 61, spent the past few years nurturing various business interests across Africa.
The SABC, of which he was chief executive from 1994 until 1997, said he held a special place in its history and that of the country. “He steered the organisation post the apartheid era and helped transform it from a state broadcaster into the public service broadcaster it is today.”
Individuals who worked with him in the media also praised his professionalism and talents.
The press ombudsman said he remembered vividly when Sisulu came to work in Industria as a journalist after a stint with the now defunct Rand Daily Mail.
At the time, Thloloe was working for the The Post Transvaal. While he does not remember the exact year, Thloloe recounted that Sisulu had later become the news editor of Sunday Post due to his journalistic professionalism.
“We worked closely together in the Writers’ Association of SA, which was later named the Media Workers Association of SA. He was prominent in the trade unions and active in the creation of [trade union federation] Nactu. He was also very active in the Black Consciousness Movement.
“I think it was in 1981, we were banned and placed under house arrest,” Thloloe remembered.
He described Sisulu as one of the distinguished leaders in the journalistic community. Their newspaper was banned along with them.
Both men were Nieman fellows.
Sisulu – who was younger than Thloloe – was the third South African recipient of the Lyons Award after journalist and political commentator Allister Sparks.
When honouring him with the Lyons Award, the chairman of the Nieman awards committee, Albert May, described him as a leader in the Struggle.
President Jacob Zuma also paid tribute to the son of his political mentors and Struggle veterans Walter and Albertina Sisulu.
“We have learnt with shock and sadness of the passing on of such a distinguished South African and patriot. He has left an indelible mark in both the struggle for liberation and the reconstruction of our country after 1994. He leaves a legacy of selfless service, humility, patriotism and dedication to this country and its people. May his soul rest in peace,” Zuma said.
UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, who worked closely with Sisulu to expose the evils of the apartheid government, also paid tribute.
Sisulu is survived by his wife Zodwa, daughter Zoya, sons Moyikwa and Ziyeka, and granddaughter Lilitha. – Additional reporting by Sapa