JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s best-known Zulu weatherman who won the hearts of millions of viewers with his cheery “Good Luck!” sign-off has died of AIDS, the national broadcaster said on Thursday.
Jabu Sithole became one of the handful of South African celebrities to pu
blicly admit he had HIV in March, saying he wanted people to protect themselves from the epidemic which infects an estimated five million people in the country.
He died in a Johannesburg clinic on Thursday, aged 34.
“Over the years that Jabu was at the weather centre, he brought the Zulu weather bulletin to life … the enthusiasm that he brought to the bulletin will be solely missed”, South African Broadcasting Corp (SABC) spokesman Kaizer Kganyago said in a statement.
Sithole was among the first South African television meteorologists to broadcast in an African language following a decision by the SABC in 2002 to introduce the service in all 11 of the country’s post-apartheid official languages.
He had an estimated audience of 2.3 million Zulu-speakers, and regularly ended his broadcasts with a hearty “Umphiumhlope”, which roughly translates as “Good Luck”.
Despite having one of the world’s largest HIV/AIDS caseloads, South Africa has seen very few high-profile figures acknowledge having the disease, a situation that critics say perpetuates stigma around AIDS and makes it harder to fight. — Reuter