APRIL 3, 2023 was a dull day for the literary world in the Free State province of South Africa and Lesotho after 40-year-old multi-faceted journo-cum-author, Teboho Letshaba was found dead in his Bloemfontein apartment.
April 12, 2023
6 min read
Letshaba leaves benchmarks in his wake
The late SABC provincial editor in the Free State, Teboho Letshaba
Metro Audio Articles
Catch our weekly audio news daily only on Metro Radio Podcast News.listen now
Although no foul play was suspected in his demise, it emerges that Letshaba died after a brief illness.
The down-to-earth multi-award-winning journalist worked for the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC) and was stationed in Free State as its Provincial Editor, the position he held until his untimely death.
An avalanche of messages of condolences from mourners flooded different media platforms coming from the academia, journalism, sport as well as in literature from SA and the neighbouring Lesotho.
One of the luminaries in African literature who is a roving mentor for Ph.D. students of more than six South African universities, Professor Nhlanhla Maake from the National Institute for Humanities also registered his heartfelt sorrow over Letshaba’s sudden death.
“Letshaba’s departure is one of the greatest losses in media and literature. The sun has set too early for us,’’ he said with a broken heart.
Prof Maake lamented that in South Africa writers die unnoticed as literature is not apposite and vibrant like in other countries.
“I was struck when I arrived in Copenhagen in 1983 that there were more statues of writers in the city than those of political figures. Their national geographic marker is a statue of “The Little Mermaid”, from a story of that little mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. That is the impact of literature…but as for us,’’ he said.
He said if Letshaba and another writer of note, Lanny Mokoena who recently passed on unnoticed had been soccer players or musicians, there is no doubt that their names would have been emblazoned on the front pages of different newspapers and would have made the headlines for days to end.
The Curator of the Sesotho Literary Museum (SLM)/Assistant Director at the Department of Sport, Arts, Culture, and Recreation said that Letshaba’s death was a great loss to Sesotho Literature as his style of writing was unique.
Letshaba who was a Ph.D. holder published Sesotho books including Lejwe la kgopiso, Ntshunyakgare, Pelong ya Lerato, Riteng sa Moseeka, and Mehlolo e tsamaya le badumedi.
Two of his books, Ntshunyakgare and Pelong ya lerato are prescribed for universities and high schools.
He also contributed an English short story in a book edited by Pule Lechesa called, Free State Brewed short stories.
This accomplished writer’s love for writing started when he was a Grade three pupil and was triggered by his penchant for listening and watching Sesotho dramas on radio and Television during the golden days of TV1, 2, and 3.
He was a great drama actor during his high school days and his all-time-favourite actor was Khotso Nkhatho, the former Lesedi FM Executive Producer Drama, whose sterling performance in Sesotho TV series, Mopheme, and Vicious Circle made him a household name.
Letshaba’s former colleague at Bloemfontein SABC’s radio and television, Ishmael Modiba described him as a down-to-earth perfectionist who always spurred them on to greater heights.
Letshaba worked for different newspapers before joining SABC in 2008 and he rose through the ranks from a cub reporter to being at the helm of the SABC in Free State. Under his editorial belt, he has worked as SABC Assignment Editor, Motsweding FM Programmes Manager as well as SABC Provincial Editor.
He started writing books and scripts when he was at Rehauwetswe High School in Viljoenskroon.
He later armed himself with a law degree from the University of Free State (UFS) and some of the big publications that he worked for over the years include The Citizen and City Press.
Letshaba was an avid reader who bought volumes of books and read indiscriminately. Some of his favourite English books included The Madonna of Excelsior and Black Diamonds by Professor Zakes Mda and in Sesotho literature he fell in love with Malefane (Sesotho drama) and Kweetsa ya Pelo (Sesotho novel) by Professor Nhlanhla Maake.
The late journalist/authour, Teboho Letshaba
Enjoy our daily newsletter from today
Access exclusive newsletters, along with previews of new media releases.
Letshaba and his cameraman at work
Apart from writing and publishing books, Letshaba was an internationally acclaimed and conversant sports analyst and his knowledge of different sporting codes was tested at the Super-sport Media Quiz challenge.
In 2019, together with his teammates, Ishmael Modiba, Sidwell Guduka, and William Valentine, Letshaba won the provincial challenge and represented the province at the national competition in Durban where they were unsuccessful in their campaign.
Letshaba was a multi-talented person who once hosted a successful afternoon drive show on Lesedi FM.
SABC Free State released a communique in which it showed that Letshaba’s death left a massive void.
“We are devastated by the death of our colleague and friend Teboho Letshaba. He was a hardworking journalist whose contributions to the SABC and the greater journalistic community would not be forgotten.”
Among his peers, Letshaba was an unrivalled journalist and author whose name was synonymous with garnering myriads of awards, to mention but a few, the 2008 Maskew Miller Youth Literature Award – First Prize: Ntshunyakgare; 2008 Maskew Miller Youth Literature Award – Second Prize: Lejwe la kgopiso; 2010 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: Central Region – Best Radio Feature; 2010 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: Central Region – Radio News; 2010 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: National – Radio Feature; 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: Central Region – Sport Category; 2011 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: Central Region – Radio Feature; 2013 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Award: Central Region – Radio News.
One of his much-talked-about accolades was the 2014 “MTN8 Last Journalist Standing”. As part of the reward, he was taken on an expense-paid trip to watch the EUFA Championship League final in Berlin, German in May 2015.
In 2016, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB) honoured him in the category of literature alongside renowned author and actor, Nkhatho, for their concerted effort toward language preservation and nation-building.