JUBY MAYET – ONE OF THE DOYENS OF SA’s JOURNALISM WORLD WHO CONTRIBUTED ENORMOUSLY TO THE FREEDOM STRUGGLES
(JUBY MAYET (ON THE RIGHT WITH HER LEFT HAND HELD HIGH) IS WITH ZWELIKE SISULU AND OTHER JOURNALIST COLLEAGUES WHO PARTICIPATED IN A PROTEST MARCH IN CENTRAL JOHANNESBURG CALLING ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID GOVERNMENT TO LIFT THE BAN ON THE UNION OF BLACK JOURNALISTS(UBJ) FOLLOWING THE BANNING OF THE UBJ ON OCT 19 1978)
By Subry Govender
One of the doyens of South Africa’s journalism world who made an enormous contribution against apartheid oppression and minority domination has passed on at her home in Lenasia, Johannesburg, at the age of 82.
Ms Juby Mayet, who not only fought for media freedom but also for the freedom of all South Africans, passed away in the early hours of Saturday, April 13.
(Juby Mayet with Philip Mthimkulu after being elected deputy secretary of UBJ in 1976. THE UBJ WAS ESTABLISHED AFTER THE SOWETO UPRISINGS OF JUNE 1976)
I was informed of Juby’s passing by another doyen of our media activist world in the 1970s and 1980s, Philip Mthimkulu.
Philip and I worked very closely with Juby in the establishment of the Union of Black Journalists (UBJ) after the Soweto uprisings in June 1976, and the Writers Association of SA (WASA). WASA was established after the UBJ was banned on October 19 1977 along with no less than 18 other black consciousness and progressive organisations.
(JUBY MAYET DURING HER YOUNGER DAYS IN 1976)
The bannings were carried out by the then so-called Minister of Justice, Jimmy Kruger. Kruger was the Minister who had a month earlier described the murder of Steve Biko in police custody as “it leaves me cold”.
Juby, who was born in Johannesburg in 1937 in a Muslim family, started her journalist career with the former Golden City Post in 1957. She qualified as a teacher at the insistence of her parents but chose the journalist world because of her consciousness against the social-political situation at that time.
Some of the well-known journalists she worked with at the Golden City Post included Joe Thloloe, Can Themba, Henry Nxumalo, Nat Nakasa and Todd Matshikiza.
After the Soweto uprisings in June 1976, Juby joined Joe Thloloe, Rashid Seria, Nat Serache, Isaac Moroe, Duma Ndlovu, Mateu Nonyane, Mona Badela, Don Mattera, Enoch Duma, Mike Norton, Mathatha Tseudu, Zwelike Sisulu, this correspondent and several others in establishing the Union of Black Journalists(UBJ) to contribute to the struggles against oppression and minority domination.
The launch of the UBJ took place in Soweto soon after the Soweto uprisings after Juby and all the other “struggle journalists” felt that the real issues affecting the majority of the people were not being reflected accurately in the media at that time and to the outside world.
Juby and her colleagues decided to join the struggle because they realised that they could not operate in isolation from the rest of the South African society.
(JUBY MAYET-THIRD FROM LEF - WITH RASHID SERIA, MIKE NORTON, CHARLES NQAKULA, SUBRY GOVENDER AND PHILIP MTHIMKULU AT THE SECOND UBJ MEETING HELD AT THE WENTWORTH HOTEL IN DURBAN IN JULY 1977.THREE MONTHS LATER THE UBJ WAS BANNED ALONG WITH 18 OTHER BLACK AND PROGRESSIVE ORGANISATIONS ON OCT 19 1977)
She fully endorsed one of our colleagues at that time, Ameen Akhalwaya, who wrote in 1981:
“Black journalists do not view themselves as isolated, neutral units. They see themselves as being an integral part of their societies.
“Liberation from the bondage of apartheid is what blacks desire and to reflect this does not make propogandists of journalists.”
Just a year after the founding of the UBJ, Juby and her colleagues found themselves in a state of limbo when the UBJ was banned along with several other organisations in October 1977. She did not take the banning of the UBJ lying down. She joined Zwelike Sisulu and other colleagues in a protest march through the streets of Johannesburg. They called on the apartheid authorities to lift the ban on UBJ.
But the apartheid regime showed no mercy. The security police continued with their oppressive actions to harass and hound Juby, Joe Thloloe, Zwelike Sisulu, Charles Nqakula, Rashid Seria, Mona Badela, this correspondent and a number of other colleagues.
Juby was detained for more than three months while Joe Thloloe and Zwelike Sisulu were held incommunicado for more than a year.
After she was released, Juby worked with Philip Mthimkulu to launch the Voice newspaper in Johannesburg. They were supported by the South African Council of Churches.
But no sooner had she settled down to promote the freedom struggles through the Voice newspaper, she was served with a five-year banning order in December 1978.
(JUBY MAYET WITH JOURNALIST COLLEAGUES OUTSIDE THE WENTWORTH HOTEL IN DURBAN WHERE THE UBJ HELD ITS SECOND MEETING IN JULY 1977)
The oppressive actions of the security police did not deter Juby, who supported Zwelike Sisulu and the rest of her colleagues in the launch of the Writers Association of SA (WASA) in Cape Town while in the background.
After the dawn of our democracy in April 1994, Juby continued with her writings and has been recognised for her contributions during the struggle years by the South African Editors Forum. She was also bestowed with the Steve Biko International Peace Award by the Umtapo Centre in 2013.
Juby Mayet was a dynamite at a time when black women journalists were few and far between. We, her colleagues in the struggles for a free, non-racial and democratic South Africa, will remember her for her forthrightness, bravery, and her determination to promote the cause of the marginalised and the downtrodden – whatever their colour, race or gender.
Juby Mayet never succumbed to the oppressive forces at that time and she also spoke out against excesses after the advent of our new South Africa.
Rashid Seria, one of the struggle journalists during the 1970s and 1980s who also played a major role in the establishment of the UBJ and WASA, paid this tribute to Juby:
"Juby Mayet was a true media martyr who dedicated her life to the struggles for a free press in this country. She was part of a unique breed of black journalists of the 1970s and 1980s who fearlessly resisted the apartheid regime in media, often in the face of detentions, house arrests and bannings. They took the fight to expose apartheid atrocities to numerous fronts. They challenged internal censorship at English establishment newspapers, started journalist movements to indoctrinate writers politically about the situation in the country, launched independent publications to shamelessly glorify the battles for freedom and designed creative schemes on how media could be used to organize people. That special group that Juby epitomized may be surpassed by a newer breed of investigative writers - a non-racial one - that so effectively continues to expose corruption, patronage, public thieving, misrule and state abuse. We owe all of them a great debt of gratitude!"
Ends – email@example.com April 15 2019