Veteran photographer Sam Nzima dies at 83

He was admitted to a Mbombela hospital the past three days.


The Bushbuckridge photographer who took the iconic photo of 12-year-old Hector Pieterson being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo has died.

Sam Nzima died at 83 at a Mbombela hospital on Saturday evening, his family confirmed.

They say the photojournalist collapsed on Thursday and had to be rushed to hospital where he died three days later.

Nzima was working for The World newspaper – beginning from the late 1960s – when he took the famous photo.

The photo shows the emotional scene of Makhubu carrying a dying 12-year-old Hector and sister Antoinette Peterson (17) running near them.

They were pupils in Soweto during the 1976 student uprising on 16 June where more than 20 000 pupils participated, fighting against the use of Afrikaans as a language of teaching.

He was born on 8 August 1934 in the Bushbuckridge village of Lillydale.

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Condolences pour in for Soweto Uprising photographer

He died on 12 May 2018 at the age of 83.


Words of condolences continue to pour in following the death of legendary photographer Sam Nzima on Saturday morning.

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtsweni visited the Nzima family in Bushbuckridge on Monday morning to convey her condolences of behalf of the Mpumalanga government.

Famous for shooting the photo of Mbuyisa Makhubo carrying a dying 12-year-old Hector Pieterson shot by Apartheid cops during the 1976 Soweto student uprising‚ the photojournalist died at the Rob Ferreira hospital in Mbombela on the evening of 12 May 2018.

Parliament said Nzima belonged to a generation of photographers who used the power of the camera lens to make an immense contribution to the struggle against that Apartheid.

“We are saddened by Nzima’s passing and our thoughts are with Nzima’s family and friends at this time of loss and grieving,” parliament said in a statement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the iconic photo will always be remembered as a symbol of resistance against Apartheid.

“Mr Sam Nzima was one of a kind. His camera captured the full brutality of apartheid oppression on the nation’s psyche and history – from the Defiance Campaign through to forced removals and the Soweto student uprisings,” Ramaphosa said in a statement issued by the Presidency.

ALSO RELATED: Veteran photographer Sam Nzima dies

“We will especially remember his iconic photograph of a dying young Hector Pieterson which became a symbol of resistance against the imposition of Afrikaans as a medium of instruction in the black schools,” the president said.

The ANC described Nzima as someone who belonged to a generation of “fearless photojournalists” who used the power of lens to tell the truth.

“His generation courageously confronted the apartheid system and regime by ensuring that the stories of the oppressed masses who yearned for freedom in their lifetime are not relegated to the periphery of history,” spokesman Pule Mabe said.

SEE ALSO: Sam Nzima angered by dogs in Hector Peterson photo

SANCO said the shooting of the Peterson photo put the Apartheid regime “firmly” on the spotlight.

“At great risk to his personal safety, he showcased the evolution of the struggle for liberation,” spokesman Jabu Mahlangu.

“It depicts his courage and the passion with which he used his skill to advance the course of the struggle for liberation and democracy,” said Mahlangu.

The Congress of the People described him as a “potent weapon” that captured historic moments [which] could never be hidden, distorted or denied by the Apartheid regime.

“The tragic demise of this colossal tower in the liberation struggle and the preservation of its collective history is indeed a great loss to the entire nation,” national chairman Pakes Dikgetsi said in a statement.

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Sam Nzima angered by dogs in Hector Pieterson photo

The school has since apologised about the issue.


Bushbuckridge veteran photographer Sam Nzima is not happy with the replacement of the faces of Hector Peterson and Mbuyisa Makhubu with dogs in the iconic photograph.

He says he considers taking legal action against the school.

“The drawing really offended me,” he said this week.

“It shows us as dogs. I’m really not happy,” Nzima said.

The iconic photograph was a week ago reproduced as a drawing by a pupil at the Selborne College for the class of 2017 and their faces appear to have been replaced with those of dogs causing a social media storm the past weekend.

Sam Nzima angered by dogs in Hector Pieterson photo

The reproduced Selborne college image

Nzima’s instant fame as a photographer working for The World newspaper when it made headlines across the globe.

He copyrighted the photograph with Adams and Adams.

When he took the photo, Nzima was working for The World newspaper – beginning from the late 1960s.

The photo shows the emotional scene of Makhubu carrying a dying 12-year-old Hector and sister Antoinette Peterson (17) running near them.

They were pupils in Soweto during the 1976 student uprising on 16 June where more than 20 000 pupils participated.

Sam Nzima angered by dogs in Hector Pieterson photo

© Sam Nzima

Nzima photographed Hector on the corner of Moema and Vilakazi Streets in Orlando West, near Phefeni High School while everyone was running away from cops on the Wednesday morning of the 16 June.

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