Monday, January 6, 2014

BREAKING. Alyce Chavunduka, South Africa's first black primetime news anchor on TV1, dead following an epileptic seizure.

Alyce Chavunduka, the well-known former SABC television news anchor and presenter has died. She was only 46.

Alyce Chavunduka died on Sunday in Johannesburg, a week after she suffered an epileptic seizure in her home.

She previously was involved in two serious car accidents, one of which she sustained in 2010 and which left her suffering from epileptic seizures.

Alyce Chavunduka was born in Zimbabwe; her father was professor Gordon Chavunduka who served as vice-chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.

Alyce Chavunduka made South African television history by becoming the first black female news anchor on the SABC's former "white" TV channel, TV1, alongside news readers Jane Hicks and Anand Naidoo. She was just 23.

In the same year, on 2 January 1992, Alyce Chavunduka also became the first black female presenter of the SABC and TV1's then (only) morning breakfast show, Good Morning South Africa.

It was a meteoric rise for the Zimbabwean girl who at 12 became  that country's youngest presenter ever of children's radio programmes on the Zimbabwean Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). Alyce Chavunduka went on to host radio programmes on Zimbabwe's Radio 1 and Radio 3 and by 18 she was a TV news reader in that country.

The telegenic news reader came to prominence in South Africa as part of the massive sea change which swept the SABC just prior to, and  following, the first democratic election in 1994 in South Africa, with Alyce Chavunduka who became a fixture for years as the prime time news anchor of South Africa's flagship television news programme.

As the primetime news anchor on SABC3 of the daily news bulletin which was then broadcast at 20:00, Alyce Chavunduka often joked that she "didn't speak English like other Zimbabweans" as the news anchor of Newshour next to her co-anchor Chris Gibbons.

Twenty years ago, SABC3 was the SABC's new English language TV channel of the SABC's three newly restructured TV channels and Alyce Chavunduka - with her consummate English and news anchor professionalism - was unquestionably its biggest news star.

In later years, after she left the SABC, Alyce Chavunduka, an avid collector of music, became a presenter for the business news TV channel Summit TV (now Business Day TV) on MultiChoice's DStv.

She was also a voice on radio stations Radio 702 and 94.7 Highveld Stereo where she did The Alyce Chavunduka Show.

In February 2004 Alyce Chavunduka returned to television when she became one of the presenters for M-Net's pan-African entertainment magazine programme Studio 53. The gig lasted for a year and by February 2005 she was replaced.

Alyce Chavunduka appeared in two films as "herself" - a news reader in Sweet 'n Short (1991) and again as a news reader in In my Country (2004).

ALSO READ: SABC on the passing of Alyce Chavunduka: ''Her contribution to the SABC and the influence she had on inspiring black women will never be forgotten.''
ALSO READ: Tribute to the dead Alyce Chavunduka: "There were so many Alyce Chavunduka wannabe's, because she was such a great role model."