Young journalists encouraged to follow in Nzima’s footsteps

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has encouraged young journalists to draw inspiration from the late veteran photo journalist, Samuel “Sam” Nzima.

“As SANEF, we hope that young journalists will take inspiration from his deep courage and his unwavering commitment to transformation and the deepening of democracy at huge personal risk. As an industry, we are honoured to have had journalists such as Nzima as part of our ranks,” said SANEF.


Nzima, who was born in 1934 in the rural village of Lilydale in Mpumalanga near Bushbuckridge, was revered for taking the iconic image of Hector Pieterson in the arms of Mbuyisa Makhubo during the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

The veteran photo journalist died on Saturday, 12 May 2018, at a hospital in Nelspruit after a short illness.

Nzima’s iconic photograph of a dying Hector Pieterson became a symbol of resistance against apartheid and the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in black schools.

“Nzima was part of a generation of courageous journalists that stood up and reported on the brutality of the apartheid regime. He reported without fear or favour.

“He is a reminder of the fearless role played by a number of journalists in the struggle for democracy that now guarantees us freedom of the media, freedom of expression and access to information,” said SANEF.

Following his passing, President Cyril Ramaphosa said Nzima was one of a kind and through his camera lens, he captured the full brutality of apartheid oppression on the nation’s psyche and history.

Nzima, who moved to Johannesburg to seek work, got his first lucky break as a photo journalist at The World newspaper, where he started as a freelancer and then was employed full time.

On 16 June 1976, Nzima took his world-famous photograph of the young Hector Pieterson, which was published in The World the next day.

After his image was published, Nzima was put under house arrest for 19 months in Lilydale.

“Nzima’s commitment to development and transformation continued way after his famous photograph. At the time of his death, he was building a college to teach young people photojournalism in his hometown of Lilydale,” said SANEF. –