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South African photojournalist Peter Magubane, renowned for his vivid documentation of the country’s apartheid era, passed away at the age of 91, his family confirmed on Monday.

Magubane’s career spanned several decades, capturing pivotal moments in South Africa’s history, including the Soweto student uprising of 1976. His work notably included a striking 1956 image of a young white girl and her black maid segregated by a “Europeans Only” bench.

Fikile, Magubane’s daughter, remembered him in an interview with SABC television as a passionate professional wholly dedicated to his work. The cause of Magubane’s death was not disclosed, but the SACEF journalists’ association reported that he died peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Magubane’s journey in photojournalism began in the photography lab of Drum, a magazine focusing on black urban culture. He soon transitioned to behind the camera, capturing the stark realities of apartheid and major events in the fight for equality. His commitment to his work led to several arrests, notably in 1969, while covering a protest outside the prison holding Winnie Mandela and others, which resulted in 586 days of solitary confinement and a subsequent five-year ban on his photography.

Despite these challenges, Magubane continued his work, even under police surveillance. His coverage of the 1976 Soweto uprising brought him international recognition. Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, paying tribute on social media, described Magubane as a “freedom fighter, a masterful storyteller, and lensman” who “fearlessly documented apartheid’s injustices.” Magubane’s legacy as a critical observer of South African history through his lens is indisputable.


With AFP