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South African Writer Phumlani Pikoli Passes Away

South African Writer Phumlani Pikoli Passes Away

South African multimedia journalist and author, Phumlani Pikoli, sadly passed away this past Sunday. He was 33.

Phumlani Pikoli, a South African multimedia journalist and author, passed away this past Sunday. News of his death was confirmed by the family's spokesperson, Twiggs Xiphu, who disclosed that Pikoli's body had reportedly been discovered by his parents, Vusi and Girlie Pikoli, who drove to Johannesburg from Pretoria after struggling to get in touch with him over the weekend. Phumlani had been in Johannesburg housesitting his brother's apartment. The cause of Pikoli's death has, however, not been confirmed. Heartfelt tributes from fans have been pouring in on social media.


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According to IOL, the family released a statement which in part read: "It is with a heavy heart filled with sadness and sorrow that we have to announce the passing on of Phumlani Pikoli, the son of Vusi and Girlie Pikoli, on Sunday, April 11, 2021.'' Pikoli's father, the former head of South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said, "The gruesome discovery of Phumlani's lifeless body lying in bed is something that no parent needs to go through."

Pikoli was well-known for his debut collection of short stories, The Fatuous State of Severity, which was published back in 2016. The underlying themes of some of the short stories included mental illness, class and race and were written in "traditional prose and grimy comic strips," writes OkayAfrica's Sabelo Mkhabela. In 2017, a year after his debut, Pikoli went on to produce a short film, Our Lives Were Bought, which was adapted from one of the short stories in the collection titled To Shy Away in Silence. In 2019, Pikoli published Born Free Loaders, a generational ode about South Africa on the cusp of democracy—his first novel.

In an interview conducted in 2019 with his publisher, Pan Macmillan South Africa, Pikoli poignantly said that, "There are so many books I wish I had written! But more than that, there are so many more books I wish to write." The literature world has indeed lost a talent.

Below are some of the tributes shared in Pikoli's memory on social media.

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Photo: Spark Creative

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