Obituary: paying tribute to former ‘Witness’ journalist

2014-11-10 00:00

DERRICK Neville Edwin Kain (90), a former Witness journalist, who served the readers of Pietermaritzburg for more than 40 years, died on October 30.

Kain moved to Natal when he was 22, joining The Natal Witness as a night sub-editor. Luck and courage led to his “big break” just eight months later when he filled in for a reporter, covering the story of a blazing fire in the city. Not only did he deliver a commendable feature but he also took the perfect shot. The next day, he became an official journalist and an in-demand freelance photographer, which resulted in a successful and memorable 43-year tenure.

He rose through the ranks from reporter to news editor, and was eventually industrial and supplements editor. In this time, he covered a range of stories — from being at the forefront of the 1948 Cato Manor riots to being the only journalist standing on the banks of the Umsundusi River when Ian Player embarked on his inaugural Canoe trip to Durban.

Kain lived by the maxim once stated by the famous Times of London editor John Thaddeus Delane, who said: “The duty of the journalist is the same as that of the historian — to seek out the truth, above all things, and to present to his readers not such things as statecraft would wish them to know but the truth as near as he can attain it.”

He had a number of short stories published and he continued writing well into old age. One such work was an hilarious tale of life in an old-age home. He was also an avid gardener, amateur film-maker and pantomime writer who enjoyed playing the piano and walking on the Wild Coast.

Kain, the son of Charles and Ethel Kain, was born in Cape Town on September 16, 1924. He attended Bishops Diocesan College before starting his journalism career. He married the late Ruby Ida Marjorie Kain and they lived together in Pietermaritzburg before retiring to Franschhoek in the Western Cape. He is survived by his two children, Neville Julian Kain and Charmaine Denise Eslick, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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