Kuli Roberts: devastated family asks for privacy as they deal with her untimely death

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Kuli Roberts at the SA Style Awards in 2018. Photo: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape
Kuli Roberts at the SA Style Awards in 2018. Photo: Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape

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Update at 15:52: Family statement added and additional tributes.


The family of journalist and media personality Nomakula “Kuli” Roberts, who died suddenly on Wednesday, has asked for privacy as they go through the difficult period of grieving and healing.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, the family confirmed that the former Sunday World lifestyle editor died on Wednesday night:

It is with profound regret and sadness that we confirm the untimely passing of our dear daughter, mother, grandmother, sister and aunt Nomakula ‘Kuli’ Roberts. Her love for family, friends, work and very importantly her community is well known.

“We humbly request that you respect our need for privacy, as we go through this difficult period of grieving and healing. We ask that you please keep us in your prayers.”

They did not divulge details of the cause of death.

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On Thursday morning, Roberts’ cousin, actor Nyaniso Bhengu, confirmed her passing, but asked for time to speak to the family. 

City Press understands the 49-year-old Roberts was on the set of her new show when she allegedly had a seizure and collapsed.

A close friend revealed that Roberts was at work when she passed:

She arrived on set around 7pm, where they were filming with other artists. She collapsed.

The former lifestyle editor at Sunday World newspaper is said to have died a few minutes later.

Friends of the journalist, who was also an actress on Mzansi Magic soapie The Queen, took to social media on Thursday morning to confirm the heartbreak.

READ: New hosts for new Trending SA

Former journalist and close friend Cassandra Gudlhuza shared a picture with Roberts and captioned it “Oh my friend” with a heartbroken emoji.

Roberts was in the spotlight after she lost her job at the newspaper late last year after she had been announced and later dropped as a councillor candidate for political party African Transformation Movement.

Tributes continued to pour in on Thursday on social media as colleagues and friends paid their respects to Roberts who impacted the lives of many in entertainment.

Internationally acclaimed actress Terry Pheto wrote: 

I am still in shock. My heart goes out to Kuli’s children, family and loved ones. She was one of a kind – an icon!

Actor Sello Maake kaNcube added:

Bow out my dear sis, yours was a life lived a 100 times better than how most of us wish we could, those who loved you, loved you for your truth and resolve and same as those who didn’t! Consistent to the end! We will meet again for that coffee.

Television producer Legend Manqele added that:

She was so funny. She once lost her dog and to feel better she bought the same type of dog and gave it the same name.

Roberts' career took off when she was a feature on SABC1 gossip show Real Goboza as a co-host and their entertainment news correspondent alongside Phat Joe. She went on to be one of the four personalities on SABC3 talk show Trending SA, alongside Nina Hastie and Dr Musa Mthombeni.

Roberts is the sister to actress Hlubi Mboya. She is a mother to two children, and she is also a grandmother.


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