Tears, pain and disillusion are three words which best described the mood in Bolobedu, Limpopo, after the Modjadji royal family lost media fundi, brother and son, Ngwako Modjadji.
Ngwako, a well-known journalist who had worked at many national newspapers in the country, was killed in the early hours of yesterday morning in Soweto after a vehicle mowed him down and then sped off.
Ngwako was with his brother, States, and had just finished dinner at a restaurant.
“I feel empty, naked and lonely without my brother. He called me when he was driving from Durban on assignment and said we must do dinner,” States said.
States, a prominent lawyer in Limpopo, described Ngwako as a brother, a friend, an adviser, an entertainer and educator, who would stop at nothing to portray the day-to-day happenings in Mzansi.
“We are yet to convince the family to discuss funeral arrangements. We will then keep you in the loop as to when and where the funeral will take place,” said States.
Trevor Stevens, editor of The Citizen, said Ngwako’s sudden passing had come as a shock to everyone that worked with him.
“He was an excellent political reporter and was well respected by politicians and his colleagues. But, most of all, he was a good, down-to-earth guy,” Stevens said.
“He will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences go out to his family.”
The Citizen online editor, Charles Cilliers, said: “My first memory of him when I became the online editor at The Citizen in May 2016 was that his article was the number one thing being read on our website.
“When I told him about it, he was so pleased and after that went to added effort to try to write political content for our site that our readers would love to consume. He was just a great, friendly guy, and he had a knack for getting strong stories from his political networks.
“I was very sad to see him leave to pursue his journalistic dreams at other titles, but I had no doubt he would keep breaking important stories, and he certainly kept doing exactly that.”
“SA is a little bit poorer without him, and it’s particularly poignant that he was taken just days before an election, precisely the kind of thing he lived for experiencing and reporting on.”
Deputy news editor Amanda Watson said she had worked side by side with Ngwako for two years when she first started as a features writer at The Citizen at the end of 2014.
“I remember Ngwako had an incredible memory, buoyed by the fact he never threw anything away which related to the stories he worked on,” said Watson “We used to tease him about his desk being a fire hazard with papers, documents,and newspapers piled high.
“It was a lesson I learnt from him – keeping records of every piece of information which led to an article. I never did master his phenomenal recall, however. And when he left The Citizen for the Sowetan, he took every piece of paper with him.”
Ngwako worked at The Citizen from 2011 to 2016, and had a national diploma in journalism from the Tshwane University of Technology.