Magubane one of finest and fearless journalists – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described late veteran photojournalist Dr Peter Magubane as a distinguished lensman and one of the finest and most fearless journalists that South Africa has ever produced.

Ramaphosa said Magubane’s contribution to journalism did not only make him a well-respected photographer but also a freedom fighter against the apartheid regime.

He was speaking on Wednesday at Magubane’s special provincial official funeral category 2 held at the Bryanston Methodist Church in Sandton.

The funeral was also attended by prominent figures including former president Thabo Mbeki, Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, City of Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda, retired Constitutional Court judge Sisi Khampepe, general secretary of the SA Council of Churches Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana, veteran actor John Kani, and veteran journalists Mathatha Tsedu and Joe Thloloe, among others.

Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, along with Phil Molefe, were the programme directors of the funeral service.

“Today we bid farewell to a distinguished lensman and one of the finest and most fearless journalists our country has produced,” Ramaphosa said

“In according him this special provincial official funeral, we as the South African people are giving richly deserved recognition to Dr Magubane for his contribution to the important craft of journalism.

Service to SA people saluted

“We have in our midst today men and women from the great generation of journalists of which Bra Peter, as he was fondly known, formed part.

“As we salute him, his contribution and his service to the people of South Africa, I salute you all too.

“In doing so, I recall the tribute penned and published last weekend by another of our media greats, Mr Mathatha Tsedu.

“He described Bra Peter as a freedom fighter, from a cohort of revolutionary media players, ‘who were guerrillas with their cameras, notebooks and pens’.

“To confirm the guerrilla status accorded to him by Mathatha Tsedu, Bra Peter is quoted as having told The Guardian newspaper in 2015 that ‘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’. And a freedom fighter he was.”

ANC Veterans League president Snuki Zikalala, a former journalist and close friend to Magubane, used his funeral as a platform to warn against “unscrupulous individuals” in the ANC.

“Bra Peter, your selfless sacrifices were not in vain. As veterans of the ANC, we will definitely renew our organisation, the African National Congress,” said Zikalala.

“We are determined to cleanse the ANC of unscrupulous individuals who are undermining our values, principles, and traditions.

“As veterans of the movement, we are actively participating in all structures of the ANC and will definitely bring back society’s trust in our movement.

“We will not disappoint you. We assure you that we will bring back the integrity of the ANC in society.”

In December, former president Jacob Zuma said he will not vote for the ANC in the upcoming national and provincial elections because “it will be a betrayal to campaign for the ANC of Ramaphosa”.

Zuma said he will vote for the newly formed Umkhonto we Sizwe political party.

Long illness

Magubane died last week at the age of 91 after a long illness, according to his family.

He was not only exceptional behind the lens but was a solid wordsmith and wrote 16 books which include Black as I am, Black Child, and Magubane’s South Africa.

He started his career at Drum magazine where he documented the daily struggles of black South Africans.

He faced persecution including arrest and 586 days in solitary confinement. However, the resolute Magubane kept exposing injustice using his camera.

In 1975, he faced a five-year photography ban but defied it during the 1976 Soweto uprising.

Despite the arrests, in 1990 Magubane started a new role as Nelson Mandela’s official photographer when South Africa was slowly moving towards democracy.

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