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‘A fantastic storyteller’: Sanef mourns the untimely death of journalist Poloko Tau

Feature writer at City Press, Poloko Tau. (Photo: Twitter)

‘A journalist’s journalist,’  is how Mondli Makhanya, City Press’s editor-in-chief, has described the newspaper’s features writer Poloko Tau, who died suddenly last week.

Poloko Tau had the rare ability to unearth and tell unusual stories and write them as humanely as possible. He was also committed to writing about the myriad service delivery challenges facing municipalities across the country.

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) joined the family, journalism fraternity and friends in mourning Tau’s’ passing. He was found dead at home in Mmabatho, Mahikeng, in North West on Friday afternoon.

His younger brother Onkemetse Tau said the family was devastated by his sudden death and disclosed Poloko died just a week before his 42nd birthday.

Mondli Makhanya, City Press editor-in-chief, said: “This is not just a loss for the family and City Press. It is a loss for South African journalism. Poloko told stories that mattered to all, and he did so in the most empathetic way.”

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.

“Poloko 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 very committed to his work as a journalist.”

She remembered many stories that Tau wrote, years after having edited them.

“One was his investigation into the multimillion-rand mobile clinic contract that Gupta-linked company Mediosa scored in the North West Province,” said Gules. “Poloko 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.

“Poloko was a devoted son, father and grandfather. His family have lost a pillar, as has City Press.”

Sanef 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 are 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.”

Sanef extended its deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. DM

The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) is a non-profit organisation whose members are editors, senior journalists and journalism trainers from all areas of the South African media. It is committed to championing South Africa’s hard-won freedom of expression and promoting quality, ethics and diversity in the South African media. It promotes excellence in journalism through fighting for media freedom, writing policy submissions, research and education and training programmes. Sanef is not a union.

 

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