Robert Marawa on Xolani Gwala: 'I arrived at the hospital and I saw a person who was free of pain'
TV and radio personality Robert Marawa has reflected on the close friendship he had with veteran broadcaster Xolani Gwala and his contribution to SA broadcasting.
Gwala died on Friday, surrounded by family at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Johannesburg after a lengthy battle with colon cancer.
In a round-table discussion with Newzroom Afrika's JJ Tabane, Marawa said Gwala was dedicated to his work.
"The last time we met, we spoke about the passion in terms of what you do - and you don't find a more passionate individual than he was. Every story had to be done and told the way that it was supposed to be done and told," he said.
Marawa explained that his friendship Gwala was sustained by their opposite interests in the media industry, politics compared to sport, which led to endless conversations over the phone.
Marawa expressed a sense of relief about his friend being free from the pain he was forced to endure.
"South Africans and Africa should not believe that Xolani did not suffer. Xolani suffered a hell of a lot," he said.
"The past two days before his passing, I think we all walked out of that hospital, we looked at each other ... You know when you're helpless and you can feel that you obviously want to say something, but it was at a stage where he could not speak. There was something that was within him that he wanted to say, but he couldn't express it.
“In the wee hours of the morning, when I got the call on Friday, all I can say is that I arrived at the hospital just before 2am. I saw a person who was free of pain.
“He was released of that pain.”
Gwala's 24-year career saw him cross from radio to TV, where he hosted SABC1's highly successful Asikhulume talk show and SABC3's News Hour, before being lured back to the airwaves. After a brief stint with a radio station in Palestine, he returned to SA and rejoined the SABC, then moved to 702.
His wife, former Miss SA Peggy-Sue Khumalo, penned a heartfelt letter that spoke about her devastation.
"We were hopeful, but always knew the gravity of the situation. From February to June this year, Xolani took part in a world-first clinical trial in Israel. His medical team has been amazing and we have enormous admiration for the work they are doing in advancing cancer treatment," she wrote.
"While the miracle did not materialise, these last few months have been precious, and we are eternally grateful that Xolani has been able to spend them with us as a family. This journey has made our family so much stronger and brought us ever closer together."