BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
NEWSDAY senior court reporter Charles Laiton has died. He was 48.
Laiton, who is survived by his wife and five children, passed on yesterday mid-morning at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, where he had been admitted battling a kidney ailment. His sister, Sophia Chalenga, confirmed his death.
“He was not well after being diagnosed with a kidney ailment and we took him to Harare Hospital, where he was admitted and discharged last week. However, his health deteriorated again last Friday and he was admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital and was placed in a COVID-19 isolation ward,” she said.
“His COVID-19 results came out negative this morning and he was then transferred to another ward, where he was supposed to get administered treatment for his ailment. But he was in a very critical condition and sadly, he died at 11am.”
Chalenga said mourners were gathered at number 4001 Glen Norah A in Harare.
Laiton’s nephew Amos Mbewe said they were waiting for the deceased’s brother from Malawi for the funeral’s arrangements to commence.
“His wish was to be buried in Malawi, but all will be determined when the other relatives gather, that is when we will be able to make some deliberations. Hopefully, the burial will be on Wednesday subject to family deliberations,” he said.
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Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) Editor-In-Chief Wisdom Mdzungairi described Laiton as a hardworking and principled journalist.
“My heartfelt condolences go to the Laiton family on the death of our colleague Charles. He was a principled journalist who was always ready to mentor young reporters, and was an authority in court reporting having worked in the justice system for some time.”
Laiton, he said, joined NewsDay at its launch in 2010.
Mdzungairi said the journalism profession had lost a leading light.
“If it wasn’t for the role he played when NewsDay launched in 2010 as our senior court reporter, we would have gone into a number of challenges. I am saddened by his passing on at a critical time. He was always available for any task and was a natural leader. Charles will be sorely missed for his professionalism not only at AMH, but the journalism profession at large.”
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said: “The media industry has lost a very professional and ethical journalist. He was a dedicated professional who brought professionalism to court reporting. We shall greatly miss him.”
Zimbabwe Football Association spokesperson Xolisani Gwesela said: “Sad … what a fine gentleman. I worked with him as a court interpreter in 2006. He was a good teacher and very respectful to us as his juniors, then together with Justice Medzani. May his dear soul rest in peace.”
Scribe Cassim John, who once worked with Laiton at the courts, said death had robbed the media fraternity of a soldier.
“Laiton was a colleague from childhood as we used to go to the same church, CCAP [Church of Central Africa Presbyterian] and we used to meet at church meetings as we both used to sing in the church choir. He was a good and very sharp guy,” he said.
Another scribe John Nyashanu said: “I was news editor of NewsDay in it’s infancy. When I was roped in to lead the newsroom, Charles Laiton was without doubt my best reporter. Reliable, articulate and well knowledgeable on court issues. He would report to work at 8am everyday, well-dressed for duty and present his diary ahead of every other reporter. There will never be another Charles Laiton.”