'Journalist's journalist': Tributes pour in for the late Poloko Tau

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City Press journalist Poloko Tau died a week before his 42nd birthday. (Photo: Lucky Nxumalo)
City Press journalist Poloko Tau died a week before his 42nd birthday. (Photo: Lucky Nxumalo)
  • Condolences are pouring in for the late City Press features writer, Poloko Tau.
  • Tau died on Friday at his home in Mmabatho.
  • His younger brother confirmed that Tau died a week before his 42nd birthday.

"A journalist's journalist" is how City Press' editor-in-chief, Mondli Makhanya, described the newspaper's features writer, Poloko Tau. 

On Friday afternoon, Tau was found dead at his home in Mmabatho, Mahikeng, in the North West province.

His death was confirmed by his younger brother, Onkemetse Tau.

Onkemetse said the family was devastated by his brother's sudden death. He said Tau had died a week before his 42nd birthday.

Makhanya said Tau could tell undiscovered, untold stories while writing it as humanely as possible.

"… he was also talented in writing about the myriad of challenges to service delivery issues facing most municipalities across the country. 

"This is not just a loss for the family and City Press. It is a loss for South African journalism. Tau told stories that mattered to all. He did so in the most empathetic way," said Makhanya.

Nicki Gules, Tau's former news editor at City Press, described him as a very talented writer, with a passion for telling the stories of ordinary people.

"Tau was a wonderful colleague and a fantastic storyteller. He wrote with great empathy for people and in a way that brought the stories to life. He was also very committed to his work as a journalist," Gules said.

READ | City Press features writer Poloko Tau has passed away

"There were many stories that Tau wrote that she remembered years after editing them. One was his investigation into the multimillion-rand mobile clinic contract that Gupta-linked company, Mediosa, scored in the North West. 

"Tau followed that story relentlessly. Another was his harrowing account of the murder of little Kutlwano Garesape, the six-year-old boy who was tossed in the air and disembowelled by an attacker, who tried to rape his mother as she walked him and his brother to school. Poloko's story made me weep at my desk," Gules said. 

"Poloko was a devoted son, father and grandfather. His family have lost a pillar, as has City Press," Gules said.

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) sent its condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

Sanef's chairperson, Sbu Ngalwa, said: "We are saddened and devastated by Poloko's passing. He was a talented writer and rare gem, mostly when it came to telling the human story. These were the kind of stories that changed lives and were written emphatically by a journalist not only wanting to write a story, but to write one that would bring change."

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Barbara Creecy expressed her sadness at Tau's death.

He was part of a team of South African journalists that covered the South African delegation at the United Nations Climate Change talks in Glasgow, United Kingdom, in December, where he interacted extensively with the delegation, which was led by Creecy.

"I am deeply saddened by the unexpected news of his sudden passing and I remember fondly our extensive conversations on climate change and the Just Transition to a low carbon economy and society," she said.

"His important contribution to the public information debate on matters, such as climate change and sustainable development, will be much missed by government and the fourth estate."

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