‘We had so much respect for him’ -Tributes pour in for former journalist and editor Tony Heard

Former Cape Times editor Tony Heard speaking at the Cape Town Press Club about his book ‘8000 days’. File Picture: Ian Landsberg

Former Cape Times editor Tony Heard speaking at the Cape Town Press Club about his book ‘8000 days’. File Picture: Ian Landsberg

Published Mar 28, 2024


Tony Heard has been described as a fearless journalist and editor who has left a mark on the industry.

The 86-year-old media stalwart passed away in his sleep this week after a short illness.

Heard's family thanked him for his courage, unwavering love, kindness, idealism and unique storytelling.

"He has caught his final wave, may he RIP," Heard’s family said in a statement.

Former Cape Times editor, Aneez Salie, recalled having a portrait of Heard on a wall in his office because of the amount of respect he had for him.

"He was a fearless journalist and editor. Who can forget the full page interview that Heard did and published where he spoke to Oliver Reginald Tambo, the now late president of the African National Congress," Salie said.

He said Heard flew to London to interview Tambo as he was living in exile there at the time.

"The ANC was banned so it was very much against the law to quote the ANC and Tambo, but Tony felt it was important that the country should know the views of Tambo and the ANC, who would soon thereafter come to power. That was the nature of the editor, fearless," Salie said.

He said the security police came to fetch Heard at his office, however, he was not charged.

"It was ironic that the then owners of the publication punished him by getting rid of him prematurely. This was a great disservice to journalism. May Tony rest in eternal peace and his family and colleagues be comforted," Salie said.

Tony Heard interviews Oliver Tambo from the banned ANC in November 1985. The article appeared in the Cape Times on November 5, 1985.

Calling Heard a "titan of journalism," the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) said beyond his professional achievements, he was cherished as a devoted partner, loving father, and doting grandfather.

"Tony's warmth, kindness, and zest for life endeared him to all who had the privilege of knowing him," said Sanef chairperson, Sbu Ngalwa.

"As we bid farewell to Tony, Sanef celebrates a life lived with purpose, integrity, and unwavering conviction. His legacy will endure in the hearts and minds of all those who were touched by his kindness, inspired by his courage, and guided by his wisdom. In honouring his memory, Sanef calls upon the media sector to recommit to the principles of truth, justice, and reconciliation that Tony so fiercely championed throughout his remarkable life.

"As we mourn his passing, let us also celebrate the rich tapestry of experiences and memories that Tony leaves behind," he added.

Heard is survived by his partner Jane; children Vicki, Janet, Pasqua and Dylan and their partners John, Steve, James and Emma; his brother Ray; grandchildren Jessica, Tyler and Ella, and other family members.