Lechesa Tsenoli on claims about his death: 'The report was an exaggeration'

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Lechesa Tsenoli.
Lechesa Tsenoli.
Nasief Manie/Netwerk24
  • After the death of Amos Komeni, an official in the office of Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, due to Covid-19, some thought it was Tsenoli who had died.
  • It appears a television news report on Komeni's death that used a picture of Tsenoli is the source of the misunderstanding.
  • Tsenoli has been regularly screened and is taking every precaution to stay healthy.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli can relate with the immortal words of Mark Twain, who wrote: "The report of my death was an exaggeration."

After the death of Amos Komeni, a project administrator in Tsenoli's office due to Covid-19 in April, some thought it was Tsenoli who passed. Tsenoli, however, is alive and well, and doing everything in his power to ensure that the rumour doesn't become a reality.

In a note about this experience, Tsenoli writes the death of Komeni, or Bra A, as he was known, "traumatised us because it was so unexpected and really left us shocked".

"He wasn’t just a statistic. Many unfortunately will pass on and only their families will know about them," Tsenoli wrote.

READ | Five nuns buried after dying of Covid-19

"What I, at least did not expect, is that I would be assumed to have died myself as a result of a misunderstanding."

Tsenoli said on the weekend following Komeni's burial that he had received "several calls to confirm that [he] had died", from as far afield as Maseru, Lesotho, eThekweni in KwaZulu-Natal, Welkom and Bloemfontein.

Bad news

"My son in Bloem called to ask me, strangely, how I was and whether I was OK. He did not tell me he had heard bad news.  

"Another friend, the second to do so after one in Pretoria, told mutual friends that he would confirm it with me directly whether I was dead or alive!"

According to Tsenoli, the problem arose after a television news show reported on Komeni's death, but used a picture of him.

"It appears it is this way of reporting that created the story of my 'death'!"

While Tsenoli laughed about the "exaggerated rumours" of his death, the ordeal did provide a reality check.

"I belong to the over-60 category with a comorbidity, and therefore vulnerable."

He writes that friends recently called him to ask whether he was Covid-positive, after "some fellow was going around spreading 'these news'." They were outraged why, having spoken to him, he had not told them.

READ IN FULL

The death of Bra A, Amos Komeni, as a result of Covid 19, traumatized us because it was so unexpected and really left us shocked. He wasn’t just a statistic. Many unfortunately will pass on and only their families will know about them. What I, at least did not expect, is that I would be assumed to have died myself as a result of a misunderstanding. The weekend following his burial I received several calls to confirm that I had died! This inquiry’s came Maseru, in Lesotho, EThekweni in KZN from Welkom and from Bloemfontein. My son in Bloem called to ask me strangely how I was and whether I was ok. He did not tell me he had heard bad news. Another friend, the second to so after one in Pretoria, told mutual friends that he would confirm it with me directly whether I was dead or alive! The problem seems to have arisen in the manner the report of Bra A was handled on television - it said Bra A had died but then showed my picture. It appears it is this way of reporting that created the story of my ‘death’! I laughed - in Sesotho they say: Lefu leholo ke ditsheho when I remembered Woody Allen’s words that, rumors of my death were hugely exaggerated! What made it sad and scary was the reality articulated by a friend this: ‘Hey yini manje yashaya eduze iCorona (Hey, that was a close shave, this Corona). Are you safe?’ On hearing of the sad passing away of Bra A in my office. AND, I belong to the over sixty category with a comorbidity and therefore vulnerable. This past week friends in Lamontville, EThekweni, called to establish whether I was Covid positive - some fellow was going around spreading ‘these news’ and they were outraged why, having spoken to me, I had not told them. I have been screened repeatedly on different occasions but not yet tested - I may in the following days go ask to be tested. I am staying and working from home, still in Cape Town, going out only when necessary, keep my distance, wash my hands regularly and or use sanitizer whenever I have to. I try to eat well, keep fit and use appropriate supplements to ensure these false stories do not become a reality. Minister Zweli Mkhize and the command council would want me to say the risk is real! We must all take care!

-  Compiled by Jan Gerber

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