South Africa

Covid-19 victim journalist Lungile Tom laid to rest

Covid-19 victim journalist Lungile Tom laid to rest

Broadcast journalist Lungile Tom, who died of Covid-19, was buried on Tuesday.

The 45-year-old succumbed to the respiratory illness — which is caused by the coronavirus — on Wednesday last week. A handful of relatives in masks bid him farewell at Maitland cemetery, in Cape Town, at 11am.

The sombre send-off did not befit the affable cameraman. His colleagues from various newsrooms — whose lives he touched — could not attend.

His wife Nandipha Nombutuma said she was sad that she could not be at his bedside when he needed her the most.

“Today we lay you to rest, my love. I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to hold your hand when you needed me to,” she said in a message to Tom.

“[I] wasn’t there to keep you warm like you would’ve wanted me to. I’m sorry I didn’t get to tell you that I loved you one more time before you left me, to kiss your forehead and tell you that it’s OK babe, I’ll see you later. RIP Lungile, In your fave words, 'Catch you later, babe. Peace out'.”

Tom is survived by Nombutuma, his two sons Sive and Imivuyo, and his mother Zukiswa. At the time of his death, Tom worked for eNCA.

In a statement, the broadcaster said Tom joined “in December 2013 as an ENG [Electronic News Gathering] camera operator, bringing his skills from CNBC Africa. Lungile was known for his larger-than-life personality and his dedication to his craft. His buoyant laughter will be sorely missed.”

According to the statement, Tom was admitted to hospital on May 10, with Covid-19 related symptoms.

“His test results confirmed last night that he had Covid-19 and he passed away in hospital this morning, Wednesday May 13,” said eNCA.

“In adherence to government regulations, we have disinfected and closed the affected floor at the Cape Town offices. The company has informed the department of labour and in the meanwhile instituted a tracing and tracking process. All employees who have had contact with Lungile have been advised to stay at home, will be tested and go into self-isolation.”

Sunday Times photographer Esa Alexander described the funeral service as “very emotional”.

“Lungile always had a smile on his face and had time for everyone,” he said.

“I've known him for more than five years. We covered a number of key events, such as the opening of parliament, court cases and festivals. Some of the stories were very challenging and photographers jostled for the best position, but Lungile was always considerate. He joked a lot and could laugh at himself.

“Had it not been for the Covid-19 pandemic, his funeral would be attended by hundreds of people. He touched many lives — not only his colleagues but the people we reported about. To him, it was not all about the story. He had empathy and respect. Lala ngoxolo Nkwali.”