Veteran broadcaster Xolani Gwala has died at the age of 44 after a two-year battle with colon cancer. It is reported that he died in the early hours of Friday, 01 November, 2019 at a hospital in Johannessburg.
Gwala announced to his Radio 702 listeners in September 2017 that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Following the diagnosis, he took a break from radio to undergo treatment. About a year later it was reported that he was recovering well. In August 2018 he returned briefly to the airwaves when the cancer was in remission. In an interview with Azania Mosaka, he said he was feeling very, very good. Hence, his death came as a shock to many, who thought he was on his way to recovery.
In a statement released through Radio 702, Gwala’s wife Peggy-Sue Khumalo said, “Just over two years ago, our beloved and well-respected media broadcaster and my dearest partner, Xolani Gwala, informed his Radio 702 listeners and colleagues that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The children and I, and the rest of the family, are devastated to share with you that our dearest XG, father, friend, broadcasting icon and campaigner for cancer awareness, tragically lost his brave battle against this ferocious disease today.”
As condolences poured in on different media platforms, SA FM’s Bongi Gwala, who has been close to Xolani since their youth, dedicated his breakfast show to him. During the show, Bongi said Xolani’s brother Mdu, who had decided to stay in hospital overnight so that he would be there when his brother took his last breath, called the family and close friends early in the morning, asking them to come to hospital. “He called us immediately. Two o’clock. At 02:15 we were there, Moses Kakane, Robert Marawa, myself, Gcina Malindi, Mdu and the wife – so we were all there. We said our goodbyes early in the morning, before the whole country knew about it,” Bongi said.
Xolani Gwala grew up at Impendle in KZN and attended high school at St. Mary’s Secondary at Ixopo. In 1995 he obtained a diploma in Public Relations Management at Natal Technikon in Durban. He started his professional radio career in 1996 as a news reader at Ukhozi FM. After that he worked for a number of radio and TV stations in the country as a reporter, editor, news anchor, producer and talk show host. He is perhaps best known for his 2000s SABC 1 talk show Asikhulume, in which he was commended by many for his impeccable command of the English language, in addition to his flawless Zulu.
Gwala has been described as a hard-working and humble man. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.
The Department of Arts and Culture took to Twitter to send condolences to the family and friends: “It’s a truly sad day for the nation as we have lost one of the foremost broadcasters of our country #XolaniGwala. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family & friends. His powerful demeanour & unapologetic devotion to the truth remains inspirational #RIPXolaniGwala.“
It’s a truly sad day for the nation as we have lost one of the foremost broadcasters of our country #XolaniGwala. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family & friends. His powerful demeanour & unapologetic devotion to the truth remains inspirational. #RIPXolaniGwala pic.twitter.com/C2HNqbJSCS
— Department of Arts & Culture (@ArtsCultureSA) November 1, 2019