The South African television industry mourns the loss this week of the popular news anchor and presenter Alyce Chavunduka, who died on Sunday 5 January after suffering an epileptic seizure.
Born in Zimbabwe, Ms Chavunduka began her career at her home country’s state broadcaster. In 1991 she made history by becoming the first black female news anchor on TV1, which at the time, was the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) main TV channel, reserved for a predominantly white audience. She was thus at the forefront of the transformation process that began to take place in South African broadcasting around the time of the first democratic elections and the political and social developments leading up to and following them.
In 1992 she joined the team of hosts on Good Morning South Africa, the country’s prototype “breakfast show’. With the relaunch of the SABC’s television channels in the mid-1990s, she became a familiar figure on South Africa’s TV screens as a news anchor on the English-language channel, SABC 3.
In its official statement on Ms Chavunduka’s passing, the SABC said of her that she “played a pivotal role at a critical time where the then channel, TV 1, and indeed the whole organisation was undergoing a transformation process, as the country was carving itself into an inclusive and democratic society. Her demeanor and high level of professionalism carried her through and most importantly, her contribution to the SABC and influence she had on inspiring black women to penetrate the broadcasting industry will never be forgotten. The SABC Board, management and staff send its sincere condolences to the bereaved family members and friends.’