Zwelakhe Sisulu was born in Soweto on 17 December 1950, to liberation struggle icons Walter and Albertina Sisulu. He was the third of five children.

When he was nine, he was taken to Swaziland to live with family while his father was an accused in the Rivonia trial in 1963.

He returned to South Africa in 1968 and a year later was detained for his involvement in underground politics. In 1970, he matriculated as a private candidate and went on to pursue a career in journalism.

In 1980, Sisulu, as President of the media union, Media Workers Association of South Africa (MWASA) [previously known as the Writers Association South Africa (WASA)], he was served with a three year banning order as part of a government crackdown on the media.

Sisulu was a founding editor of the New Nation from January 1986.

In 1981, he was arrested under the Terrorism Act, detained without trial, tortured and only released after 251 days. Five years later, he was arrested again, this time for “endangering and undermining the maintenance of public order”. He was released 721 days later on 2 December 1988.

He became a Nieman Journalism Fellow at Harvard University in America, in 1984. In 1987, he received the Louis M. Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. Sisulu was the third South African recipient of the Lyons Award after journalist and political commentator, Allister Sparks.

In 1990, he worked as Nelson Mandela's press secretary and personal assistant and in 1993 was appointed as the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC's) chief executive. He has been the chairperson of both New Africa Media Holdings and New Africa Investments Limited.

Between 1994 and 1997, he was a Chief Executive Officer of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and was involved in the telecoms, manufacturing and agriculture businesses.

Zwelakhe Sisulu passed away, on 4 October 2012, at his home in Johannesburg.


Who’s who Southern Africa. Zwelakhe Sisulu online. Available at . Accessed on 8 October 2012|

Mtshali L. (2007). Zwelakhe Sisulu's first venture was building a mud hut, now he builds businesses from the Sowetan online. Available at Accessed on 8 October 2012|

SABC. (2012). Zwelakhe Sisulu dies from the SABC online. Available at Accessed on 8 October 2012|

Ndaba B. (2012). Tributes for Zwelakhe Sisulu from The Star online.  Available at  Accessed on 8 October 2012

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