'What was supposed to be a boys' night out, ended in tragedy' - friends, colleagues pay tribute to slain City Press journalist

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City Press journalist Ngwako Modjadji remembered during a memorial service held at Media24 offices in Johannesburg. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)
City Press journalist Ngwako Modjadji remembered during a memorial service held at Media24 offices in Johannesburg. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

City Press senior political journalist Ngwako Modjadji has been remembered as a kind, honest, humble and patient person who went out of his way to produce content for the media publications he worked for.

Family, friends and colleagues gathered at the Media24 offices in Johannesburg on Tuesday to pay tribute to the well-liked journalist.

Modjadji, 40, was killed by a speeding motorist in an apparent hit-and-run incident in Soweto in the early hours of Sunday.

His best friend Simon Nare, who was with Modjadji a few hours before the tragedy, gave a moving tribute. 

Nare said he lost a friend in the cruelest way and was battling to come to terms with the way he died. 

"I have known Ngwako for donkey's years and I can count the times I have seen him angry with one hand. Even with his anger, he was so calm sometimes," Nare said in the tribute that was read out by Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase.

READ: Police working round the clock to probe City Press journalist's death

Nare detailed how over the past weekend, Modjadji was excited that his brother, States, was in town and asked that they all gather and have a boys' night out on Saturday, like they always did each time States was in town. 

"What was supposed to be a boys night out ended in tragedy," the tribute read.

Among those to attend the memorial were ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe and DA MP Makashule Gana.

In a brief tribute, Mabe shared that he had known Modjadji for almost 20 years, having grown up together. They also attended the same tertiary institution, Tshwane University of Technology.

Mabe described Modjadji as a go-getter and a hard worker.

He shared how Modjadji kept hounding the ANC leadership during a campaign trail in KwaZulu-Natal last week where he insisted on speaking to former president Jacob Zuma.

Mabe said he tried, but had failed to dodge Modjadji, whose persistence got him an interview with Zuma. 

A team player

"He kept on saying to me, ‘You know, it was my first time interviewing Zuma’. Sadly it was his last time," Mabe said.

Modjadji’s interview with former president Zuma was a lead story in the City Press on the day of his passing.

City Press editor Mondli Makhanya said Modjadji, joined the publication in August and had worked tirelessly.

Makhanya said he was honoured to have had the privilege to have worked with Modjadji.

He said Modjadji had volunteered to cover the last stretch of the campaign trail and led to him having one of the top stories of the weekend.  

"He was that football player, deep into injury time, it's 0-0 and you need those three points and there’s that player who digs deep and gets that crucial goal," said Makhanya.

Modjadji had worked at the Sowetan and Citizen newspapers, as well as Drum magazine before joining City Press in 2018. 

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