Tributes pour in for Liebenberg

18 February 2020 | Local News

Tributes have been pouring in for photojournalist John Liebenberg (62), who died in a Johannesburg hospital on Sunday.

Liebenberg's photographic collection documenting Swapo's war of liberation and the South African occupation is widely used by historians, researchers and film-makers.

President Hage Geingob paid homage to Liebenberg, describing his work as courageous.

“The courageous photojournalism of John Liebenberg raised awareness about apartheid brutality at a difficult time. He took risks to depict apartheid as a scar on the conscience of the world. He is the epitome of the dictum: A picture speaks a thousand words. Rest in peace, John Liebenberg,” Geingob said. Finance minister Calle Schlettwein remembered Liebenberg for his sense of courage.

“With great sadness have I received the news of John Liebenberg's passing. John was a courageous and daring photographer during Namibia's struggle for independence. We shall miss his humour and friendship. Our condolences go to his family and friends.”

Namibia's ambassador to China, Elia Kaiyamo, said Liebenberg would be greatly missed.

“The family and friends of John Liebenberg are in my thoughts and prayers. John fought for the liberation and put his life on the line fighting for the freedom of our people. He will be missed dearly. Deepest gratitude for the great work he has done,” he said. Investigative journalist John Grobler said Liebenberg had touched the lives of many.

“My deepest condolences to his four kids and everyone whose lives he had touched with that brilliant flame that was his greatest gift,” Grobler said.

Institute for Public Policy and Research director Graham Hopwood said Liebenberg's photos exposed the horrors of apartheid.

“His photos told the story of what was happening in Namibia at a time when there was barely any international media coverage of the struggle for liberation. His images exposed the horror of the war and the true nature of South African oppression but also encapsulated the vitality and bravery of the people's struggle inside Namibia.”

The director of the Legal Assistance Centre, Dianne Hubbard, also expressed her condolences.

“There will never be anyone else like him. We mourn the passing of Mr Bo - John Arthur Liebenberg, an extraordinary photographer who lived his life intensely,” she said. Liebenberg was born in Johannesburg in 1958. He was conscripted into the South African Defence Force (SADF) and was sent to the Ondangwa air force base.

He later returned to Namibia and in 1985 was appointed as a photographer for The Namibian.

Liebenberg was a senior and established news photographer whose work has been exhibited in Africa and Europe. Following Namibia's independence, he and his family moved to Johannesburg, from where he covered the Angolan civil war as freelancer for Reuters. He later joined Media24 magazines, mostly working for Drum.

He is survived by his four children, Joseph, Jessica, Max and Emile and his grandson Leo.


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