President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday paid tribute to renowned and highly respected journalist, playwright and Pietermaritzburg personality, Khaba Mkhize, who passed away.
In a statement issued by the Presidency, Zuma said Mkhize, the former editor of Echo newspaper and ex-assistant editor of the Natal Witness (The Witness) newspaper in Pietermaritzburg, died on Tuesday.
Mkhize also served as regional manager of the SABC in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Mr Mkhize played a pivotal role in the coverage of the violence and promotion of peace in Maritzburg and the Midlands during a difficult period of the state of emergency and repression against the media,” said Zuma.
“He received death threats but continued with his work with bravery and dedication. We respect him for his promotion of freedom of information and expression, and for his use of the media as an instrument of promoting freedom, human rights and democracy.”
Mkhize was also president of the Association of Democratic Journalists, which was formed at the time of the United Democratic Front, when many sectoral formations emerged to take the struggle against apartheid forward.
He produced various plays documenting the tragic violence in Maritzburg, such as Pitymaritzburg. He also actively supported peace processes in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Mkhize opened up Echo newspaper to up-and-coming poets by having a dedicated poetry page each week, which enabled young people to speak out about their circumstances during a difficult period in the 80s and early 90s before the dawn of freedom,” said Zuma.
“He cared about the poor and underprivileged and used Echo newspaper as a community advice centre on Thursdays, where journalists would receive members of the public and assist them with all sorts of enquiries.
“He groomed, trained and produced journalists who later made a name for themselves in the country.”
The Presidency said Mkhize would be buried on Friday, 29 July, at Mountain Rise Cemetery following a service at the Edendale Lay Centre which would start at 10am.
– African News Agency (ANA)