Hilarious, walking encyclopaedia and a larger-than-life character.
These are some adjectives that many across the media industry used on Tuesday to describe fallen veteran sports journalist S’Busiso Mseleku.
“South Africa has lost a rich reservoir of knowledge,” said City Press Editor in Chief Mondli Makhanya as he led the tributes for Mseleku, (59) who succumbed to a Covid-19 coronavirus-related illness on Monday night.
“Mseleku was a walking encyclopedia when it came to football. He could tell you who scored an equaliser in a 1970s derby, could rattle off what happened in what minute in a 1980s league decider and had the names of obscure players at his fingertips. Football was his being.
As a colleague, we will remember the hilarious raconteur that S’Bu was. He had stories for days, always told with mirth. His distinctive laughs reverberated across the newsroom as he moved from desk to desk dropping a joke or sharing the latest nugget from social media.”
Former Sowetan sports editor Sello Rabothata also remembered his fallen colleague, who he said was part of an esteemed team known as the “Three Musketeers” in their newsroom.
In his tribute, Rabothata wrote: “To say that I was shocked to hear of S’Bu’s passing would be an understatement. ‘Mafutha’, as I used to call him or Musketeer, was a colourful character and loved and wanted attention. I was deputy sport editor to Molefi Mika at Sowetan when I first worked with him. Always willing to listen and learn.
“When Mzansi was readmitted to the world football family in 1992 and played international matches, Sowetan decided on starting a column that was solely dedicated to our national team.
“Mika, I and S’Bu had a great time taking turns in writing it which led to erstwhile Safa boss the late Solomon “Stix” Morewa naming us the Three Musketeers.
“It wasn’t easy as we were seen as interfering and stepping on people’s toes. We soldiered on. A time came when we realised that the national team needed a name. Enter Mika, who threw the name Bafana Bafana in one of the columns we wrote and I endorsed it while S’Bu was on assignment.
“The name had come from a Sowetan Dazzlers supporter who followed the company team’s games in the late Aggrey Klaaste”s nation building campaign.
“He called the team Bafana Bafana and we simply transferred it to the national team.
“S’Bu could play football despite his size. He would lament occasions when I didn’t play saying ‘where am I going to get those passes from’. He believed that I was the ‘best’ passer of the ball for him to rattle the net the way he did.
“His work ethic was also out of the ordinary and he had a nose for news. His contacts were strewed across the country. It was thus no surprise when City Press poached him from us where he rose to be sport editor. Condolences to his family and friends. May his soul rest in peace,” said Rabothata.
City Press editorial manager Timothy Molobi said he learnt with shock the passing of Bra S’Bu, as they used to call him.
“Apart from football, we used to share hymns. He’d always ask me about certain hymns and that brought us more closer because it was not just about work-related stuff.
“To me, he was not a boss but someone you could talk to about anything and everything outside the work environment. His passing is a major loss to sports journalism in the country. May his soul rest in eternal peace,” said Molobi.
Mseleku took his last breath at the Midvaal Private Hospital on Monday night.
In his illustrious sports journalism career, he also worked for Drum magazine as sports editor and delivered football insights as an analyst on SABC Sports and other numerous broadcast channels.
Mseleku is survived by his wife and five children.