Legendary TV presenter Derek Watts loses battle to cancer

Legendary and widely recognized Carte Blanche investigative journalist Derek Watts has lost his battle to lung cancer.

Aged 74, Watts died on Tuesday morning. His family is expected to issue a statement confirming his passing shortly.

Watts’ colleague and fellow presenter Bongani Bingwa conveyed his condolences to the family. 

“One of the kindest, most generous professionals to ever do it. The room disappeared when he spoke to you,” said Bingwa.

“Even as a colleague, he made me feel like I was Mother Theresa. Condolences to Belinda and his children, Tyrone and Kirstin.” 

In June, Carte Blanche announced that Watts would step away from the cameras to focus on his poor health.

This after he was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2022, which had since spread to his lungs.

With the support of his family and specialists, Watts continued presenting Carte Blanche, but a sepsis infection in March complicated his treatment.

On April 2, he wrote on Twitter: “Morning! Looks scary but collapsed with suspected stroke in Hoedspruit 14 days ago and dispatched to super pro Mill Park Hospital ICU.

“Diagnosed [with] severe sepsis which destroyed the body in an hour! So learning to walk again. But back on your #carteblanche screen asap!”

He attached a photo of himself, noting that he would be back on his feet again.

Last month, the cancer hit his lungs and Watts constantly depended on an oxygen machine due to decreased lung capacity.  

Later that month, he bowed out of Carte Blanche after 35 years as a presenter on the show to focus on his poor health.

Tributes continue to stream in following reports of Watts’ death.

Television presenter Zola Hashatsi wrote: “It’s crazy and scary to think that Uncle @derekwatts1 started his career on @carteblanchetv when I was born in 1988 and spent 35 years there.

“He has been battling with cancer, but I trust he is at peace now. A sad day in broadcasting. He unfortunately lost the battle to cancer.

“The full statement will be released shortly. Please give [the] family [some] space and time to process [the news].”

Legal reporter Karyn Maughan wrote: “A gentle giant has left us. Rest in peace Derek Watts. Thank you for the way you led your life and your incredible journalism.

“Thank you for being brave and kind. And thank you for always believing that things should be better. You blessed us all.”

Journalist Govan Whittles wrote: “A giant of South African journalism, one of a kind. Thank you for setting the standard so incredibly high.

“For the masterful storytelling week after week on #CarteBlanche. Rest in peace Mr Derek Watts, you paved the way. My condolences to the Watts family.”


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