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SA TV biz in shock after death of cameraman Dudley Saunders

2013-12-31 11:33
Cape Town – South Africa’s television news industry is in shock following the death of the fearless cameraman Dudley Saunders who died on Tuesday after being hit by a train while filming a story for the BBC.

Saunders (45), the son of the well-remembered former SABC journalist Cliff Saunders, died on Tuesday while he was busy shooting a programme in Soweto for the BBC.

Saunders, a veteran former SABC cameraman, and whose work ethic, demeanour, and legacy can only be described as legendary, also worked for Combined Artistic Productions which produces M-Net's long-running Sunday night magazine show Carte Blanche.

Dudley Saunders had been an on-the-go production stalwart behind the lens at Carte Blanche for many years. In 2013 the fearless and resolute Saunders was the cameraman who filmed the majority of Carte Blanche's stories.

South Africa's TV industry is reacting with shock and sadness over his unexpected passing.

"The entire Carte Blanche team is deeply mourning the death of the M-Net programme's principal cameraman, Dudley Saunders," George Mazarakis, Carte Blanche executive producer told Channel24 in a statement.

"We have lost one of our greatest talents. Dudley was a key member of the Carte Blanche family and a true gentleman and consummate professional. His work ethic set high standards for all those lucky enough to work with him and his artistry created images that moved and inspired his audiences. It was a delight and a privilege to have known and worked with this awesome man among men! We will miss him dearly.”

Derek Watts, Carte Blanche anchor said he "can’t believe how many camera crews and  producers are grieving right now. [He] filmed the most volatile situations around the world but treated every shoot as a new challenge. Will miss him beyond words."

"Devastated to hear about Dudley Saunders - one of the best cameramen I ever filmed with," said Debora Patta,'s former 3rd Degree anchor and now CBS News correspondent. "Filming with Dudley Saunders was always more than just a story - it was an adventure, a work of art and a hell of a lot of fun."

Devi Sankaree Govender, Carte Blanche presenter called Dudley Saunders her "brother and friend", saying he always had her back during confrontational interviews.

Dudley Saunders ironically was the cameraman on the 2010 TV documentary Surfing Soweto from Sara Blecher (work for which he also received a Safta nomination), following so-called "train-surfers" in Soweto who notoriously rode on top of trains as a dangerous form of sport and self-expression.

Two years ago in August 2011 Dudley Saunders was hit by stones but kept filming despite bleeding, while covering ANC Youth League and Julius Malema supporters going on a rampage in Johannesburg.

His work saw him travelling widely. Being a cameraman for TV news and numerous investigative magazine shows, his name and work showed up when the credits rolled on shows over the past two decades on South African television and beyond, ranging from Special Assignment to 3rd Degree. As such Dudley Saunders was no stranger to dangerous situations where circumstances could often change instantly.

In 1993, then working for CCV (the SABC's TV4 channel after a name-change) Dudley Saunders suffered serious injuries in Sharpeville and ended up in hospital after he was knifed and beaten by a group of 30 people while filming a story for SABC News. The SABC's TV reporter with him at the time, died after bleeding to death.

Dudley Saunders was also the cameraman for My Dead Husband's Land, the award-winning South African documentary film which won as best documentary in 2008 at the Baltimore Women's Film Festival.
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