Congress of the People (Cope) has hailed veteran journalist and former ambassador Jon Qwelane (68) for his courageous journalism during the apartheid era.
“It is a very very sad day for South Africa. Bra Jon Qwelane is a true example of an ethical journalist. He was fighting the apartheid government with his pen. A brave activist and freedom fighter. He was declared enemy of the state for exposing injustice wherever it happened. We are saying, Bra Jon, we have a democracy today because of your contribution. Go well, true patriot,” Cope national spokesperson Denis Bloem said in a statement on Thursday.
Cope said the people of Maokeng in Kroonstad in the Free State would never forget the role Qwelane had played in breaking the back of a notorious apartheid-sponsored vigilante gang called Three Million, which killed many people.
The party has sent its heartfelt condolences to the Qwelane family, to friends and to the media fraternity.
Qwelane’s death was confirmed by his attorney Andrew Boerner earlier on Thursday.
He made his mark as a print journalist and worked as a reporter for The Star and Sunday Star, for which he also wrote columns. He produced op-ed pieces and had two regular columns in the 1990s: Jon’s Jive, which appeared on Saturdays, and Just Jon on Sundays.
Qwelane was a founder member of the Writers Association of SA and was the recipient of the SA National Editors Forum coveted Nat Nakasa Award in 1998.
He was appointed as South Africa’s ambassador to Uganda in 2010.
His family has asked for privacy during this difficult time.
Since the news of his death, messages of condolence have been pouring in on social media.
Jon Qwelane has passed away. 2020 has shown us flames— Pinky Khoabane (@pinkykhoabane) December 24, 2020
A man of his own views, a hard core & well researched journalist, feared by many, hated by many, loved by many and a rare talent in media circles especially talk radio. #JonQwelane lit theTalk at 9 702 lines & set them ablaze in the heat of things. Unrelenting on his word. MHSRIP— WeziKhoza (@khoza_wezi) December 24, 2020