SEASONED journalist Phindile Xaba, who lost her battle with cancer at her family home in Diepkloof, Soweto, on Saturday, was editor-in-chief of INSIDE EDUCATION quarterly print publication launched in March.
She was 53.
Xaba, who was hand-picked by the founder of Inside Education and owner of K&K Media, Matuma Letsoalo to become editor-in-chief, came from a history of editing multiple education publications in South Africa, including one of the Mail and Guardian subsidiaries, the Teacher.
During the launch of the quarterly print publication last month, Xaba said she was quite delighted to work in the education space at this crucial time.
“I look forward to contributing towards being part of the solution and thanks to the publisher for the opportunity. Together with the assembled team of highly professional media people we only aim to make this a support resource for teachers, learners, ECD facilitators, tertiary institutions and all artisan training facilities,” said Xaba.
Letsoalo said Xaba’s passing will leave a huge void within the K&K Media Group.
“Her untimely death is not only a loss to her family and Inside Education, but the media industry, both in South Africa and across the continent. Her passion and dedication in covering and editing education stories was unquestionable. We will pick up her fallen spear and continue to do what she did best in contributing towards the development of education on the continent,’ said Letsoalo.
“We will miss her deeply, especially her energy, distinct laughter and charisma she exuded whenever she was in the newsroom.”
On Monday, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) extended its deepest condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues within the industry.
Mathatha Tsedu, a former colleague of Xaba at the Sowetan, veteran media personality and political activist, described her as “the journalist’s journalist” that was always concerned about the state of journalism.
“She walked the communications route extensively, living up to her belief that information is power and that communication, particularly journalism, was critical in the developing state of democracy here at home,” said Tsedu.
“She was no-pushover and I remember defending her in a disciplinary hearing where race-based but baseless accusations of inefficiency were levelled against her. Needless to say, she stood her ground and the case crumbled. Journalism and communication fraternity are the poorer with her passing.”
Nomvula Khalo, former colleague of Xaba at the Sowetan, said losing someone of her calibre and experience at the time when the nation was questioning the status of journalism as a profession, was terribly sad and unfortunate for South Africa because the profession and young journalists needed her mentorship.
“May we continue her legacy by promoting the culture of reading and taking our profession and ourselves seriously,” Khalo added.
“May her soul rest eternally, I wish her son, daughter and the entire Xaba family strength during this sad time.”
Ryland Fisher, who worked with Xaba as judges on the Vodacom Journalist of the Year awards and the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Awards now hosted by SANEF, said he will miss her wisdom in judging sessions.
“She had a wonderful sense of humour. She made great contributions and interventions during our meetings. We judged the Sikuvile Awards a few weeks ago and none of us had a clue of the pain she must have been suffering. She continued to perform her judging duties with diligence. May her soul rest in peace,” said Fisher.