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Sunday Times: Gwen was fearless

2011-08-25 10:05
Cape Town – Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley has said that columnist Gwen Gill, who died on Wednesday, was "one of SA's greatest journalists".

Gill, who had been ill for some time, died at the age of 75, TimesLive reported.

Hartley told Channel24 that Gill, known for her Social Scene column in the Sunday Times, "was fearless, clever" and that "she wrote beautifully".

"It's a very sad day today, we lost one of SA's greatest journalists (…) She was an inspiration to a lot of people."

Pay tribute

According to Hartley, her most notable contribution was "to introduce SA to a side of people in power that they've never seen before. She put a face to names in a time when new people were rising in politics and business."

Hartley also said that what most people forget "is her enormous contribution as a consumer columnist", because that's "where she really established her name".

Tributes started pouring in on the social networking site Twitter after Hartley announced her death.

City Press editor Ferial Haffajee said: "A legend to the end. We lay down our pens today as the grande dame rests."

Technology researcher Arthur Goldstuck described her as "the great consumer journalist of her time".

Hartley confirmed that the next issue of the Sunday Times will pay tribute to Gill.


Gill started working as an editorial secretary at the Sunday Times in 1971 and from there became a renowned consumer journalist, winning an award for her work in the early 1990s.

She later became the Sunday paper's writer of its weekly social column, transforming it into a must-read for social butterflies by gossiping about everything from food to fashion.

University of the Witwatersrand journalism professor Anton Harber, in an interview with Carte Blanche, summarised her influence by saying: "There are Gwen Gill functions, and then there are functions that Gwen Gill does not attend or write about."

She won the Vodacom Lifetime Achievement Award at the Women in the Media Awards in 2008.

In an interview with TheMediaOnline, she said at the time that a one-on-one meeting with former president Nelson Mandela was a recent highlight in her journalism career.

"We talked about grandchildren, the Millennium Eve party on Robben Island, winning Consumer Columnist of the Year Award, being appointed features editor of the Sunday Times when I'd only been a journalist for three years, and meeting fabulous people."
(Image by: John Liebenberg, Sunday Times)

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