Wiseman Derrick Khuzwayo (1954 – 2017)

Wiseman graduated from Hull with an LLB degree in Law in 1981.

Wiseman arrived in London in 1977 when forced into exile following detention and torture by the South African police. He had been a law student at Durban University, but his studies were discontinued as he was implicated in an arson attempt at the institution. He was then a reporter on the Durban Daily News before being arrested on charges of treason and sabotage. The case against him collapsed, but he was re-arrested. British Liberal politician Lord Avebury took up Wiseman’s case and persuaded the Government to allow him entry to the UK.

Wiseman came to Hull as a law undergraduate and was financially supported by his fellow students until his graduation through the South African Student Scholarship Fund. He got involved with student union politics as a Broad Left activist; identifying himself as a communist. His real interest was journalism, not law, and was an enthusiastic contributor to the student newspaper, Hullfire.  His friends knew him to be sociable and generous; always the first at the bar to buy a round of drinks. Fellow law student and friend Cathy Harper has recalled that Wiseman “was extremely bright and having already started a degree he was far and away ahead of most of us on the course both in his knowledge and analytical abilities. I rarely recall seeing him at lectures but he would borrow notes from people before a tutorial, scan read them quickly, (usually in the Union bar over a pint of lager) and that would do for him. His power of retention was quite remarkable…”

After graduating, he went back to London and entered the field of journalism, initially as an investigative journalist and then writing on economics. Wiseman returned to South Africa in 1991 after his hero, Nelson Mandela, was released from prison. His ticket home was financed by a group of his Hull University friends who organised a farewell dinner for him in London. Back in South Africa, Wiseman worked for the Weekly Mail & Guardian, Sunday Star, and the Sunday Times before beginning a short stint as a media liaison for the Ministry of Public Works. He ended his career as a financial journalist for the Business Report, which has a weekly readership of one million. He was known in the newsroom as Bra Wisey.

Wiseman died on 26 May 2017 after a long battle with lung cancer. Doctors had given him six months to live in 2015, but he survived for a further two years, working right up until the end. He leaves his wife Anna and six children; four sons and two daughters.

A tribute in the Cape Times (29 May 2017) described him as “one of the unsung heroes of black journalism”. It continued, Wiseman “was worldly, yet approachable and humble, yet erudite. At times when discussions in the newsroom were intense while deciding on what story to go where, Bra Wisey would sit quietly as if uninterested in what everyone was on about. And when everyone was at the end of their tether, he would speak out calmly and provide wisdom. You could go to him with the most complex of problems, and he would just give you a smile and tell you that no problem was insurmountable.”

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