SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: Iconic South African news reader Riaan Cruywagen was honoured at a farewell breakfast at The Venue in Sandton on 26 November. Cruywagen retired later that day after his last broadcast of the SABC2 Afrikaans news at 19h00, exactly 37-years after his first TV news broadcast in 1975.
The farewell breakfast was attended by SABC executives and board members, TV presenters, colleagues of Cruywagen and other members of the media.
Morning Live host and master of ceremonies for the event, Vuyo Mbuli, noted: “In the present day people are called legends or are said to have had illustrious careers after only two or three years of broadcasting. However, when you say that Riaan Cruywagen has had an illustrious broadcasting career, it is one of the few times when the term would be correctly used. Congratulations Riaan on being legendary and thank you for bringing so much dignity to our profession.’
SABC board member Pippa Green added that Cruywagen read between 7,000 and 8,000 bulletins in his 37 year career. “He is a survivor. He survived apartheid and all the changes at the SABC that followed. And he is still standing. Riaan, the trustworthiness you brought to the news you read will be the legacy that you leave behind.’
Cruywagen said that he had been under the false impression that he would just be able to disappear quietly from news reading. “I honestly thought that when someone enquired at the news room they would just be able to say: “Oh Riaan? He just left because his entire vocabulary has been exhausted’.’
According to Cruywagen he is humbled and overwhelmed by the enormous “undeserved’ attention his retirement is receiving. “I say “undeserved’ because the news reader is just the visible tip of an enormous iceberg. If anyone deserves credit it is the entire news and editorial staff of the SABC.’
He noted that the secret to his success has been to remain a career broadcaster – loyal only to his profession throughout political changes in the country and changes in SABC management, striving to be unbiased and balanced at all times. “I always remembered that I serve the entire spectrum of South Africans,’ said Cruywagen.
“Without the support of the public I would not have attained my world record – as the longest running Afrikaans news reader in the world.’
He added that he was looking forward to spending quality time with his family after retirement. “When I say goodbye tonight, I have no regrets. I wish my successor just as much satisfaction and joy as I have had.’
Cruywagen’s final news bulletin at 19h00 on Monday 26 November was followed by a documentary on some of the highlights of his long career.
Report by Linda Loubser