A brilliant journalist, a loving husband and father and a generous man.
This is how friends, relatives, colleagues and politicians remembered Morning Live presenter Vuyo Mbuli during his funeral service in Johannesburg today.
The funeral, held at St John’s College in Houghton, was both a sombre and a joyful affair filled with music, laughter and tears.
Former president Thabo Mbeki sent a message through his foundation, which was read by SABC talk show host Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu.
“Mbuli is an embodiment of what a true South African is – a decent and a profound human being,” Mbeki said in the statement.
“Not many journalists have mastered the ability of telling a story without trying to be in the story. “Mbuli understood things an average journalist does not understand. He was a true professional who avoided generalisations and name calling. As a public broadcaster, he truly embodied the SABC slogan of citizen empowerment and mostly he understood that deeds speak volumes, and this was his favourite saying (mitiro yabulabula).”
Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane encouraged the SABC to name its new studios after Mbuli in honour of his contribution.
It wasn’t just the professional accolades that poured in during the four-hour service at St John’s.
Mbuli’s longtime friend Mbulelo Hobo described him as a “courageous” and “fun-loving person”.
“Vuyo loved laughing. Every time we met I knew we were going to laugh,” said Hobo to applause from the mourners.
Businessman Saki Macozoma said Mbuli was a “generous” and “good neighbour” in the coastal Eastern Cape town of Port Alfred, where he owned a home.
“Every question Mbuli asked was meant to enlighten the masses, empower the people, and expose false prophets without trying to become a messiah. He espoused the values of ubuntu with dignity,” said Macozoma.
His family spoke lovingly about Mbuli as a husband and father.
His estranged wife Savita called Mbuli her best friend, husband and life partner.
“Now I understand why you said the road ahead will be difficult, because without you, my husband, the road ahead will be difficult and you left with so many promises you made,” she said.
“‘Umuhle Thando’ (You’re beautiful) he used to say. You loved me and I loved you.
“I promise to raise our children the best way I can,” she concluded, fighting to hold back tears.
Both his son and daughter addressed the mourners. Daughter Siphosihle (15) said: “My father was a cool dad.”
His 13-year-old son Sithenkosi, who was with Mbuli when he collapsed at a rugby match in Bloemfontein last Saturday, said: “I know my father loved me, and I loved him – we watched sports together on the couch.”
Gospel singer Hlengiwe Mhlaba added her powerful voice to proceedings, reducing mourners to tears.
Sfiso Ncwane sang his popular hit “Kulungile Baba” and the Bala Brothers sang a hymn.
Three choirs performed hymns.
Mbuli was laid to rest at the Heroes Acre in West Park Cemetery.