Vuyo Mbuli's death shocks, saddens SA

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma, political parties and the broadcasting community expressed shock and sadness on Sunday at the death of SABC television and radio presenter Vuyo Mbuli.

The SABC reported that Mbuli, 46, collapsed while watching a rugby match between the Cheetahs and the Reds at the Free State Stadium on Saturday night.

He was treated at the scene before being rushed to the Mediclinic (hospital) in Bloemfontein, where he later died.

Zuma praised Mbuli's contribution and said his death was a loss to the nation.

"It is hard to think of a more patriotic and positive person than Vuyo," Zuma said in a statement.

"He was always cheerful and the whole nation will miss his smile and encouraging words.

"I wish to express, on behalf of government and the entire South African population, our words of condolence to the Mbuli family, friends and the SA Broadcasting Corporation."

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, who was in London, paid tribute to Mbuli as a "constantly reassuring presence on our television screens over two tumultuous decades".

"With gentle and genteel style, perfectly suited to morning television and radio, his was for many people the first and most trusted analysis of the daily news," Tutu said in a statement.

The Nelson Mandela Childrens Fund expressed shock at his death.

The fund's finance and audit sub-committee chairman Warren Clewlow said: "[It is] not only the media world that has [suffered with Mbuli's loss] but also a number of interest groups where he served and the people he touched".

Mbuli served as a member to the Fund's board of trustees finance sub-committee.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) hailed Mbuli for his responsible and fearless brand of journalism.

"He was a representation of a unique blend of journalism that shied away from [the] cheap bubblegum journalism that has began to stoke the respected profession," spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni praised Mbuli's ability to be "hard but down-to-earth".

Earlier, Government Communications and Information System acting chief executive Phumla Williams said government was saddened by the veteran journalist's death.

"Government expresses its deepest condolences to his family, friends and the media industry. Vuyo has touched the hearts of South Africans through his work."

SA National Civic Organisation spokesman Dumisani Mthalane paid tribute to Mbuli, saying his choice of subject matter for his talkshows reflected his patriotism.

"Mr Mbuli has been one of the country's great broadcasters who treated all listeners and viewers as human beings irrespective of race, colour, status, religious belief and political status," he said.

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA said Mbuli's contribution to quality journalism would be greatly missed.

Spokesman Sibongiseni Delihlazo said: "Vuyo was a true example of the necessary bridge between society and the decision-makers while remaining humble [and] relaxed..."

The African National Congress Youth League in Limpopo also expressed its sadness at Mbuli's death.

"His provenance for the use of all languages found in our country to greet... Morning Live [guests and viewers] was an indication of togetherness and acknowledgement of the diverse realities of our country," spokesman Klaas Mabunda said in a statement.

The SABC expressed its shock and "great sadness" at Mbuli's death.

Spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement that Mbuli, who was a Morning Live and SAFM presenter, had shown dedication and loyalty to his job, as well as the South African public, through his work.

"He was one of the first presenters on Morning Live, when it began to broadcast in November 1999 and he had maintained his position until his untimely death.

"This speaks volumes of the love that the public had for him, and the great talent and skill he possessed through his presenting and knowledge base."

On Sunday condolences poured in from parties across the political spectrum, including the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania, the Young Communist League of SA, Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula and the Democratic Alliance.

DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said: "He personified what it meant to be a warm, engaging and tolerant South African".

Congress of the People spokesman Dennis Bloem described Mbuli as "a zealous newshound who stood for the truth in public interest and remained fiercely objective at all times".

Azanian People's Organisation spokesman Funani ka Ntontela praised Mbuli's multilingualism, saying this skill gave him the ability to make a broad spectrum of guests on his talkshows feel at ease.

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu described Mbuli as "an outspoken linguist who took pride in celebrating the diversity of South Africa and its people".

"For decades, Vuyo Mbuli has been a constant presence in South African homes, tackling various issues of national importance with wit, charm, respect and an all-embracing and inclusive manner."

The ANC also praised Mbuli's tireless efforts in promoting dialogue on various issues of relevance to South Africa's national discourse.

"In this, the last time, his signature sign off - Sharp Sharp - came too soon and he will be sadly missed," Mthembu said.

A family spokesperson told the SABC that the cause of death had not yet been determined.

The spokesperson requested that the family's privacy be respected as they tried to come to terms with Mbuli's death.

- Sapa

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